Latin: /'vɒks pɒpjʉliː/ VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

It's Winter and we're Migrating

Exciting web developments are allowing us to migrate to an independent page of the school website within the month.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Gingers do have souls!" by S Tinelli

...shouts the odd ginger behind your computer screen in the YouTube window.

Discrimination against the average person who just happens to have carrot orange hair is something commonly known as Gingerism to the world today. Many very successful people in today's society have a ginger-coloured head of hair yet we discriminate against them because of this. They are not in any way different to us. Why do we do this, you may ask?

Well, to put it simply, as humans we are mean and we enjoy seeing others embarrassed. We do this because life is a cycle: we get picked on for our size, shape, our beauty or ugliness and so we return the favour to others. The only difference between gingers and the rest of us is that their hair colour is different.

We complain about differences every day through racism, sexism and any other discrimination, yet what would we do if there was no difference in this world?

"Variety is the spice of life" is what many say, yet we cannot seem to grasp the differences between people and then just accept them.

We as humans are so fussy that we tend to forget about the small differences between us that go unappreciated. For it is these differences between us that allow us to stay entertained in the rush of life. I mean, really, "discriminating against hair colour," is that what we have deteriorated to?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Comfortable Fit" by E Pienaar

The man looked up, blearily with bloodshot eyes, as if he had just woken up after a night of heavy drinking. His dark-ringed eyes darted from side to side as if suspecting a trap then, hesitatantly, he pulled his hand out from within his long overcoat and reached out for the proffered cigarette.

"Since you're offering..." responded the man in the overcoat snatching the cigarette and lightingup with a silver zippo that seemed to have slipped out from one of his sleeves. He wore fingerless gloves on hands that were as grubby as the rest of him. His haair fell long and greasy over his face which was illuminated for a brief moment as he lit up. What she saw briefly in the spark seemed to imprint itself on her memory and she could still make out the shadows of where his sunken eyes sat in the orange glow of the ash.

She sat herself down next to him on the steps and lit a cigarette for herself. Above them the drone of conversation floated down from the bright lights of the party.
"Don't quite fit in do you/" she asked the man wrinkling her nose in distaste. Sitting as his level had not relieved her of the strong odour that was wafting over from where he sat.

The man made an odd, keening noise that seemed to pass as somewhat of a snigger. He took a long drag on his cigarette, drawing it until the filter. Removing the stub from his mouth he let the pent up smoke billow out before answering, "I fit in just fine thank you; it is a large enough room afer all. How about you? Being such a big girl that room seems barefly spacious enough. You had to bend down to get through the door didn't you?" he asked, flashing a sudden grin of, amazingly enough, perfectly white teeth. The smoke still hung in the air circling the two on the steps. The man suddenly stuck out his hand, palm up and mimed puffing on cigarette with the other.

The woman was slightly flustered. Most people tended to avoid the topic of her size. Indeed, most people tended to avoid her flat out, intimidated by all seven feet of her. She brushed her long black hair out of her face as she rummaged in a purse, that seemed minute in comparison to her, in search of her pack of cigarettes. It wasn't that she was overweight or out of proportion. She was simply on a larger scale to most others.

Finding her pack, she offered the open box to her companion while smoothing down her dress, which was tailor-made to fit -but the latest in fashion. The man took four.
"I didn't mean... erm... physically out of place. I was referring to your clothes," she attempted to explain, gesturing with her large manicured hands, "-by the way, were you even on the guest list? What is your name?"

The man had unrolled the cigarettes and was busy pouring the contents into a pipe he had fished out of his coat. "I'm Bond-"

"James?"she interrupted, raising a perfectly oversized eyebrow.

"Virgil, actually," he replied, flashing another perfectly white grin. "My clothes are the clothes of my profession and I have been told that a man dressed professionally is a man worth respect." The pipe was now lit and more smoke was curling out in thick clouds that began to obscure the surroundings. "Let me tell you something," he said, blowing smoke in her face. "A tree cannot pass for a flower. One can give it petals, scent it wonderfully and have planted it in a flower bed, but the people who pass will only remark on how odd that tree looks."

The woman was shaken. She opened and closed her mouth a few times trying to find the words to respond, "And what profession is that, Mr Bond?"

Nothing could be seen from outside the smoke now. "I'm in travel," he said, "but lately I've grown a bit weary of it all. Been thinking of settling down somewhere. Maybe in a room that fits me." he looked pensively at her then, before continuing, "If you don't mind me saying, you do not fit that room and it fits you even less. Have you considered a career in travel? There's a wonderful freedom to it and with the sky as a roof I can hardly think of a better fit for you."

She could feel his eyes boring into her, holding her fixated. "Okay... what do I need to do?"

The man, Virgil Bond, spat in his hand and offered it to her. After only a moment's hesitation she spat, grasped it and shook firmly.

She reached then for a handkerchief to clean the spit from her hand but none of the pockets of her overcoat contained anything of the sort. A well manicured hand came forward with a handkerchief. Embroidered in gold at the one corner were the initials, VB.

Leaving her, a well groomed man in a tailored suit made his way back to the party at the house. Alone, she emptied out her pipe, brushed her long greasy black hair out of her haunted eyes and set off with nothing but the night sky above her.

"Red Cardinals -for Rae Ellen" by S Nakada

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at the age of fifty-two. It started with forgetting where he put the nails in his backyard shed, or forgetting what he'd done five minutes ago. he'd comment about the baseball scores and how the st Louis Cardinals would surely get to the finals that season, forgetting that they had lost to the Boston Red Sox the night before. Then he realised that he started blending time - discolouring and stripping it of its depth, he would look at the clock and realise he had wasted two hours staring at a meaningless TV screen.

He took great care to hide these glitches from his wife. He told her he'd talked with a friend on his way to the grocer's and that the conversation had kept him from buying the bread and butter. He made lists of things to do each day, wrote out directions for himself when he drove around town.

And one day a visit to the doctor's confirmed his dreaded suspicions. They put him drugs, useless medication that he knew would not slow this aggressive snowball from rolling down faster, rolling his memories and brain into a still, bare echo. He'd heard of Alzheimer's. He knew it was a lost battle, a blind-folded rush to the unkown. He dreaded its avid clutches stealing away his life, and he finally understood how precious and beautiful memories were, how sweet and kind life had been to him. He wanted to cherish his remaining years. He wanted to live the rest of his life the way he'd always wanted to.

All too soon, though, he found how meaningless time was and how little difference there was between ten minutes and ten days and ten years. He rediscovered the feeling of dependency and joy at small miracles like laughter. He did not realise he moved to a nursing home. He did not remember the fear in his wife's eyes after he saw red. But for brief moments he would remember the fading imprints of the feel of his wife's hands on his. Sometimes he would bask in his chair and listen to the red cardinals from his room when he still could marvel at the beauty of nature. And when he couldn't hold his cutlery anymore and had to wear diapers his eyes still held a peace. When he couldn't speak anymore he still heard. And in his last moments, when he was just a dead living, he still felt his wife's presence, still felt his red heart pumping feebly each second. And then his heart ceased.

And a lifetime of memories flew forth.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"The Problem" by P Viljoen

The problem with thinking is that once you start it's quite hard to stop...

Creation. A term used when "something" begins to exist. This usually is an improvement for that particular "Thing" but it leaves the question, "What came before?"

A line was traced through the cosmos, this was big news. In a place where space and time were laughable ideas all of a sudden form was created.

The line grew, an irrevocable solidity which drove back the white expanse forcing one idea onto a space precariously occupied by the endless possibilities of emptiness.

Lines stretched, joined, coupled and completed. The idea grew more complex; it was no longer a single point of focus but a train of thought which was pushing back the white expanse with the irreversable ease of consciousness.

A pair of eyes. No more than black holes, grew in the centre of the focus, devouring the world for the first time and instantly forgetting the absense that came before.

A mouth, a line scratched across what was now the face of the world, just a line, an after-thought which at once gave a voice to the world but also imparted emotion to the solitary figure, just one detail was left... a name.


Where do ideas go? If an idea were forgotten does it no longer exist... or does it simply go back to where it came from? All ideas are different, some strange, some profound, others simple, fleeting or absurd but this idea... ERIC. V... now he had personality.

The thing about existance is that you can't really remember what it was like before it started, thought Eric. V.

Yes, Eric thought, this had come as quite the suprise; he knew that his first thought possibly wasn't even that good.

He had stood there on the square, looking ever forward, never moving. His coal dark eyes passively boring a hole in an unending, unbroken white world, until a spark flared a single moment of awareness which flooded the dam of consciousness and spilled over its wall to anxiously become the second thought of this white, empty world.

"Well, this is boring." Followed by the first blink, yawn and scratch in an inappropriate place.

The problem with creation, thought Eric. V, while pacing the flloor of his walless cell, is that it seems to often get bored.

After the initial shock of finding himself existing in a world as interesting as a 5 000 piece puzzle of a clear sky, Eric. V promptly lost his balance and experienced gravity, fear and pain in the same instant.

Emotions spun dangerously in his mind, like a novelty chainsaw juggling act, each one rushing towards him demanding Eric. V's attention.

The chaos of instantaneous existing eventually passed and with no small amount of effort Eric. V stood and took a few tentative steps to the edge of the pure white platform on which he stood.

Time, as we all know, is truly relevant on space; so in a world filled by only one figure, who can say for sure how long he peered ignorantly over that edge, but what we do know is that Eric. V was not afraid. Curious, slightly confused, a little nauseous and slightly hungry but not afraid. How could he be, he was alone and did not know anything about...well... anything.

So he nonchalantly swung first one, then the other leg over the edge and then fell as gracefully as any slinky could have hoped for -head over heels into the endless possibilities of nothing.

For Eric. V knew deep down that there are no endings, only different beginnings.

In memory of Eric Viljoen, my grandfather that i didn't meet.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"One man's freedom fighter, another man's terrorist" by L Wellner

Murder, madness, horror, cruelty and disrespect. Many words a Sea Shepherd member would use to describe the horror happening out at sea, as the result of another nation's tradition.

Out in the Southern Ocean there is an ongoing war betwen the one-ship strong army of the Sea Shepherds and the entire Japanese whaling fleet. The eco-warriors, the Sea Shepherds, will stop at nothing to try and rob the Japanese of a profitable whaling season. In spite of being few in number, the SS put up a good fight by disabling whaling vessels at harbour, intervening in seal hunts, ramming other vessels, tossing glass bottles (of butyric acid) on the decks of the vessels at sea, using a system called "prop fouling" (tossing rope into the propellers of the whaling ships) and disorientating whalers with laser devices.

Of course, this is only possible when they are not being shot at by high pressure water-hoses, powerful enough to wound a brave Sea Shepherd badly enough to be taken back to the main vessel, the MY Steve Irwin. The whalers have another powerful weapon, a Long Range Acoustical Device (LRAD) causing the victims disorientation and dizziness to such an extent that one would fall over (doing so on a speed boat in the Arctic ocean could be fatal).

The leader of this powerful organization? Captain Paul Watson, an early member of Greenpeace who was ousted for his direct action activism, which clashed with their pacifist ethos. He started the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose aims were to stop commercial fishing, shark poaching and finning, seal hunting and whaling.

The crew of this organization includes eco-warriors from England, Australia, South Africa, Holland and many more. They dedicate their lives to help protect our marine life. Animal Planet has been filming the weekly series Whale Wars, based on the group's encounters with the Japanese. Watching it, you are right in the action with the Sea Shepherds. If just watching the programme isn't enough for you, you can view their website at www.seashepherd.org.

You can donate money or become a member. Who knows? -Maybe they need someone like you on board the Steve Irwin. Maybe you could save some whale's life. Maybe you could chance this world?

"Song of the dead" by A Hess

On a cold Thursday morn
Walking on a forgotten road
I smile and meet the dawn,
A calm, residing-abode

No footsteps disturb the pavement
Not even my own two soles
A never-ending silence along the cement
When something haunting calls

I pass a cemetary, the B'nB of the dead
To have a silent song come from its woods
A quiet melody - intruding in my ead
I see two footprints where someone once stood

A never-ending humming rings in my ears
Someone is out there
Indulging in my fears
Doing things I wouldn't dare

To whispier in someone's mind
To enfold them in your song
It's a song that will bind
Blind me even if it's gone

It goes against all beliefs
To have someone poking in your head
But it is the melody of the deceased
A loving song of the dead.

"The bold and the blustery" by N Smith

With silent composure and the temperament of a saintly child,
It hustled noiselessly, as if stillborn,
Through the branches,
And sepals,
Gently caressing Mother Nature's limbs.

Angered by the sun's defiant, yet silent reign,
Where all were dependent,
The breeze raised itself up into a larger state,
Like an insecure dog raises the hairs on his neck.

Swooping and singing a glorious war cry,
He stops only to hesitantly check for a
sign of interest in the sun's eyes,
Yet the sun looks on silently in amusement,

It is not that he feels a superior being in
comparison to the inconstant wind.
He, unlike others,
Is here
And future,
Whereas the wind has a wavering lifespan from a few minutes,
To a few days,
And whose timeline of age is constantly reset,
From a young and childlike breeze,
Where the winds of change signal instability,
To a brewing storm easily conquered by the appearance of our valinat hero,
The sun.

There will always be those that are content in themselves,
And know that they are a success,
And those like the wind that need constant power-ups
To feed their dependent wouls with others' support.

"Afrikaans versus Modern Society" by N Smith

Undoubtedly, one of the thoughts that has at some time crossed our minds as students is about the relevance of learning Afrikaans as a second language.

At school, every day, as a citizen of South Africa, this idea of Afrikaans being a relevant part of educating the younger generations is forced upon our society.

Second to English, Afrikaans always takes highest priority over other subjects. I ask you, is language not an art? Then for what reason does Afrikaans take preference over the cultural arts such as dramatic and visual art? For a student, failing cultural arts is seen as a non-event. The subjects are seen as irrelevant in schooling and supposedly these subjects 'get in the way of more important subjects' when in fact they provide creative stimulus, which inspires us and invigorates us.

When the Afrikaans grades start to drop extra lessons are quickly fitted into every free opening in the child's timetable -third language periods, prep time and even during sport practices, if all else fails, which robs the child of what little freedom they have. I can understand these measures being taken for a first language such as English. After all, it is the universal language. Without English, all other areas, such as history, where good vocabulary is needed for essay writing to sustain good grades, fails. It is even needed in mathematics in order to understand the language of numerals and decimals. How else could a problem sum be completed short of mathematics maturing and solving its own problems?

Overseas, Afrikaans is barefly recognised as a language of importance whatsoever, so why should it be learned here? The Chinese's growing economy will soon be dominating Europe, so should we not be learning Mandarin instead? Already, approximately eighty percent of our goods have "made in China" inscribed on them somewhere in small letters. All students with knowledge of Mandarin would have a higher chance of finding a job overseas in the future, and a fighting chance of being accepted as a successful individual in the work place. Even those who do not immigrate will lose interest in a minority language such as Afrikaans when pursuing a tertiary education in their home langauge, and their knowledge of the language will gradually fade to black, so why waste precious time teaching it to them now?

Out of the eleven official languages in our country, only one of them is instinctively assigned as a compulsory second language in the Western Cape and is seen as more important than all the others, and yet nobody wonders for what reason this is so.

I have nothing against those with an Afrikaans background but merely ask you why the language must be forced on those are not interested in it? To ensure that it does not die out? Is it part of a minority's culture that they feel others would gain value sharing in the experience of? If the public would rather learn Xhosa or Zulu or any of the other official langauges as a secondary langauge should they not be allowed to decide for themselves which they feel is a more advantageous avenue of language study?

I have no problem with Afrikaans speaking schools and universities who give classes solely in this language, specifically for the Afrikaans members of these institutions, but those who do not take naturally to Afrikaans, should be allowed to choose to be educated in one of the official languages that they feel is more representative of their own individual background. Langauge is a part of culture, and if we should be allowed to choose our own religions should the same not be allowed for langauge choice? Choosing a language that does not define us individually is trying to be someone we are not, and if we are allowed to choose our own languages it will impact positively on our ability to express ourselves freely.

Afrikaans is a completely different langauge to English and has its humorous sayings that tickle the nation's pride, but for the youth of South Africa who find Afrikaans does not come easily to them, it is difficult to access these contextual expressions when speakers are accustomed to other langauges that are humorous in completely different ways.

Some public figures really make a language come alive, but I am sorry to say that we are lacking in those figures in society, and the remaining, who do understand its authenticity are reducing the language's reputation in society. What our country needs is someone who excels in Afrikaans who will put this langauge "out there" and rekindle the desire to speak it. The rest of us, if asked to write a creative essay in Afrikaans, I assure you, will struggle to find inspirational ways to express ourselves as the difference between English and Afrikaans is so vast.

Do not get rid of Afrikaans as a secondary language in schools, but offer it alongside the other official languages of South Africa, with the added choice of internationally budding languages such as Mandarin, so that those who want to learn globally accepted languages are given the choice to pave the path to their future.

"Confession" by S Linkov

Everyone's broken something.
Me, a rat's skull.
I'd found it, you know, just walking.
Thought I might keep it. With hollow teeth and those
enameled hoops where its eyes should be
and behind, space with no brain to speak of
it never made a sound. Maybe we'd be

I'm most myself when I'm breaking things.
I buck toy horses till their legs snap right off,
flush pills downt he drain. When I was five I
stood on a tadpole to see what would happen.
I'm a job-satisfied torturer. I'm a bawling
crass god. When I broke my leg, I laughed.

I hid the skull in my pack. As I took it out
white powder spilled out of its nose like
blood. Its teeth were jagged, the hoops
not quite hoop-like, one jaw I couldn't find.
My foot was Levite-angry. Splinters flew to
the coasts of Isreal. Then I got my breath back.

It's stupid. I tell myself to grow up. I started
a pottery class once. Fingering air bubbles
I made the children cry. I sketched a nude,
gave her a rack to lie on. Tore a book in two
to show just how strong I was. But that rat...
You really don't give half a damn, do you?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"The voice of the trees" by A Wellman

As dusk set in, the sky burned crimson. Electrifying the air to the point where it was almost tangible. Setting the eerie yet perfect and repetitious atmosphere for, "story time". The human ear, it is just the mere wind, but to Nature, it is the excited and incessant rambling of the young ones.

To clarify Story Time: It is the sharing of knowledge. Shared by the story teller. The story teller always being a tree. A tree who is the wisest and oldest of them all.

The pixies join from their hollows, the soil rests where it is, the animals and plants find harmony amongst each other, the sky relaxes, the sun takes a deep breath, swalloing the remaining day, the water stills and mother earth smiles at her offspring. All is calm and all is serene. To the human ear the wind has died to a simple breeze, but to Nature the lecturer has begun his speech.

"Emily. Emily. Emily, my most beloved friend. Oh she was beautiful. Golden twirls that caressed her delicate face, while her sparkling eyes enticed anyone closer.
Emily came to me when she was very little. She came to me with her father, he tied a tyre to my branches and it made me very happy. Little Emily would swing for hours, smiling and laughing. Her locks flowing back and forth. She came to me with her mother, they were so similar. Same happy, care-free smile. The one that could make anyone smile alone no matter their problems. They would have tea parties under my shade, sometimes her teddies would join. They were very friendly and would chatter away with everyone, silently. She even came to me with boys, but that was when she was older. They would sit in each others' arms against my trunk and talk for hours. Until the sky turned pink and the mist swept across the forest floor.
Then she came to me in tears for her father had died. She sat in my branches crying and crying.
Eventually her mother came through the surrounding trees and took her home in her sleep. I didn't see her after that for a very long time. Years even.

Until one day I woke to Emily cradled over something that was nestling in my roots. It let out a high pitched laugh, identical to Emily's. It was Emily's new daughter.
I was so proud of how little Emily had turned out. They sat in my roots just enjoying life. It gave me great pleasure. That was the last day I ever saw Emily, but not Rebecca.

Rebecca came to me, just as her mother had done, and she still does."

Just then something rustled in the bushes across from the story tree. A beautiful, curly blonde-haired girl emerged and strode towards the old tree. She raised a hand and rested in gently on the chipped bark.
"Hello there old friend," Rebecca smiled.

To Rebecca, the wind brushes past her, covering and embracing her.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"My Dreams" by A Hess

What's the point in dreaming
If the dream will disappear?
What's the point in believing
If it is something that you fear?

Can you imagine a field with roses
Without any thorns?
To see forever sunsets, nights of stars
And kissing dawns.

To forever be enchanted
By the magic that surrounds us
Without ever thinking of the fear
That constantly threatens to drown us

No slow and creeping insanity
That brings us tears and pain
But I guess it's not a problem
If you were never sane

To have a dream of candy-floss
Sugar fairies and happiness
To never have to think of others,
And to never have to stress.

To dream of fields of sugar roses,
And a soft blue sky
To live in bliss forever
And never have to die.

I cannot escape reality
But yet under silver moon-beams
I can still allow one pleasure
To the safety of my dreams.

"A Tea Party" by A Hess

A never-ending tea party
Is happening in Times Square
So what if we're all ghosts
And the living do not care!

Who needs to breathe?
Or who needs to touch?
It makes no difference
When we're all laughing so much!

To heck with the living
Enjoy your death!
If a living being could hear our jokes
They'd run out of breath!

Who needs drinks
or who needs food
when the guests can remove their heads
to lighten the mood?

When you're around forever
And insanity isn't rare
Might as well make the best of it
And have a never-ending tea-party in the middle of Times Square!

"Football at College" by A Hendricks

Football; soccer; the beautiful game. It's the world's most popular sport, yet also one the College prides itself in lacking.

The College provides almost every other sport possibly desired by high school students, except the option many want. Granted, girls are given the opportunity, however in all honestly football is a male-dominated sport. The majority of schools across the country offer it, so I propose the question: why not at Somerset College?

I understand there is a petty fear of losing numbers in rugby and hockey as many boys will want to participate in soccer. Nevertheless, I highly doubt the prominent players of those sports will want to leave them to play football. Let the footballers play football and the others continue with their original options. This seems a vague solution but it holds water if we have try-outs. Have try-outs for a first team football team (as was done for rugby) and then let the players who qualify -and only those- be part of the team.
This option is feasible as it requires a maximum of around fifteen players who will represent the College's Football First Team, while the majority of other students continue in their respective sports, as per usual.

Tradition is something valuable, but not when it hinders progress. If we are to advance and diversify as a school the least we can do is let the boys participate in the beautiful game. Needless to say, only those who thoroughly deserve to play will end up playing through the process of proposed try-outs.

People may argue that other schools around us don't offer the sport and therefore, why should we? I'll tell you why, because we are Somerset College: because we pride ourselves on being leaders, not followers.

Feel free to express your comments, ideas on how to deal with this issue and to present further options, respectfully.

"Pop Culture and the Middle Mind" by M Goldsmid

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. "Doctor, it's too late."

Culture is dead, and pop culture and consumerism have risen from the ashes like the twin, slack-jawed, drooling phoenixes of shallow desires and pretention. Desire? The word itself means nothing anymore, like similar things it is now nothing but hollow fakery, manipulated into a marketable product. So-called "modern culture" is mostly mindless content, and not culture in any real sense of the word. We are fed the monotonous drivel of our own disenchantment and ennui, thus, we no longer think. So, how is it that we were bled of meaning, of emotional substance, and reduced to the gratuitous emptiness of a deflated, wretched middle-mind?

We are beset by images and ideals created out of corporate ambition and representing greed, sexual or otherwise. We are deviously manoeuvred into a sense of incompleteness and lack, when really what we lack is any sense of real meaning or value. This is achieved via the flashing screens of cell phones, televisions and computers that blast mindless, manipulative drivel at us with an incessant fervour. And so, we are unwittingly drawn into it, becoming fools of our own ambition, willing participants in our own slavery. We pathetically attempt to adopt many of the characteristics and expectations that are projected onto us, and we lose our sense of self. All the while, the vapid nattering of cell phone conversation and the mindless chirps of Twitter blur the distinction betweent he real and the virtual, and human communication is degraded into a jumble of weakn contractions and asanine repetition. FYI, like OMG.

We don't know where we are or where we're going, what we should feel or think. This is precisely because all these things have been imposed on us. Far from the blunt authoritariansim of bygone eras, the fascism of the modern age is far subtler, and in a different, insidious way just as damaging. Before we were confined by values and ideals that at least served some purpose, however narrow that might have been. In the modern age the deathly face of apathy and dissolution screams at us behind every beaming, trashy romantic comedy and shallow spoof, behind every slavishly worshipped pop goddess. We are imprisoned by our own lack of originality.

This manifests in how we desperately adopt any semblance of pop culture and ego-material. We are walking advertisements for companies and conglomerates that have nothing to do with us and we perceive ourselves as validated by their labels. What is more, we define our sense of self in relation to the rest of the world by these things. Under the guise of individualism and expressionwe conform to social stereotypes that are ultimately irrelevant, incorrect and often harmful. The same trend can be continued into music and language. The middle-mind has infected almost every area of life, and only a few alert critics are aware of it - or aware at all.

And so, we are stranded in a technocratic cultural wasteland while the ghoulish faces of vacuous and plasticised pop icons and ghastly Hollywood creations stare us into a corner of morbid isolation. We have the illusion of being in control of our lives, but are at a psychic level, lost, aneasthetized and helpless. We are lethargic, dispassionate and willingly so -blinded by our own idiocy and every stereo is blasting the imbecilic, thumping sound of our own damnation.

"The Unofficial Survivor's Guide to Bieber Fever" by C Thwaites

The aim of this post is just to open people's ears to some awesome music out there that happens to be made by Christians, that is not of the annoyingly-repetitive chapel variation, but rather something you would want to listen to in your spare time. I tried to put something in for everybody whethere you're into screamo, alternative, acoustic, hip hop, Justin Bieber -it's all here (except Bieber... I think we've all had enough of her, right?).

If you are like me then when you hear that these bands are Christian you kind of cringe, and am not sure you want to be preached at for three or four minutes for eleven tracks, so the bands I chose were the bands you would least expect to be god-fearing, with lyrics like: "just boiling in my blood," you wouldn't expect Paramore to be Christian but they very much are. If I've left out any of your favourite bands that happen to be Christian then please feel free to put it in the comments and spread the music.

Alternative Rock:
Paramore is a female-fronted (Hayley Williams) alternative rock band but is definitely not defined by it, for Hayley's voice overpowers even some of the best male-fronted bands. the lyrics are sincere, deep and are all hidden behind upbeat guitar riffs and catchy melodies, leaving you wanting more.
Their first album "All We Know" was made when they were all still in high school and it shows, their second album has to be their best: "Riot!" where they find their sound. Having gone multiplatinum with RioT!, their success did not end at their latest album: "Brand New Eyes" having also turned platinum has kept the band together. This can be seen in their song, "Ignorance" which contains some spiteful lyrics, but the album is not centered around this and it takes a turn for the better in songs like "Looking Up" which shows the band overcoming of their differences and continuing to write amazing music.

Underoath drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie branched out almost five years ago in an effort to create The Almost, a side project that was a significant step away from the metalcore sound of his original band. The Almost follows more of a traditional pop rock sound, which certainly allows Gillespie's clean vocal skills to have more of a focus -and deservedly so. The Almost has released two EPs since the initial full-length release (an impressive feat after only a few year's time)


House of Heroes has not only crafted one of the most intricate, yet catchiest pieces of music to come along in years, but they have also written what is a compelling World War II parallel designed to make us re-examine pre-existing notions on faith, God and country. "The End Is Not The End" is a lush undertaking... thought-provoking, engaging and at times, even epic.
Sounds like... an inventive, sometimes schizophrenic mix of alternative rock and power pop styles that resemble parts of Reliant K, Edison Glass, Weezer, Sanctus Real, Phantom Planet and Green Day.

House of Heroes still manages to keep their alternative pop/rock accessible and clearly grounded by their Christian worldview.


Post Hardcore:
Originality. From the generic "chug-chug" breakdowns every five seconds, to the annoying pig squealing, some may think there's no hope for the genre. That is where Sleeping With Sirens comes into play. Sleeping With Sirens are a young five-piece band who know how to write good music. Their debut album, "With ears to See and Eyes to Hear" displays just that. This ten song album displays so much talent, yet so much potential to take the music world by storm.


Flyleaf's sound is impressive. They are a hard rock band with a female vocalist, but they get away from that Amy Lee sound that has ruled the female rock scene. The music itself reminds me of Chevelle. It is drop-tuned guitars, heavy riffs, chubbing chords, etc. It is intense music. The music blends extremely well with the singer's voice. This is the first release by Flyleaf. the band is made up of four guys, a drummer, a bass player and two guitarists. Then of course, the female vocalist. Each song is a powerful and unique experience. You find yourself falling in love with the band after each new song. Another similarity to Chevelle is how the singer screams, but it is not something you'll hear in every song. She has an amazing scream, but it is not overused.


End of Silence 9RED) is a very rare breed of an album. Red couples blistering long metal rock songs with those heart wrenching ballads. The story behind the album is admitting to one's mistakes and accepting Redemption. The power ballad "Already Over" starts on piano and Michael barnes sings of how lost he is without whatever you interpret it as. The chorus swings in the electric guitar as Mike wails that it's already over for him. In retrospect, the last song of the album, "Already Over, Part 2" has the singer finally finding the redemption that he craved. the perspective in "Lost" has the singer telling God that he's lost and needs His help. The hit single "Breathe into Me" is a wailer.


Sounds like... a fusion of contemporary hard rock and metal with pop balladry, recalling the work of Evanescense, Creed, Jonah33, Seether, Seventh day Slumber and Stained At A Glance.
With top-notch production and faith-inspired themes relevant to a broader audience, Comatose just might be the most accessible album yet from Skillet, though some of the pop tendencies are a bit too soft.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Is this friendship?" by J Chambers

Is this what friendship is meant to be like,
this constant affection,
so harsh that anyone who enters into it
is smothered and latched onto,
taken under.
The constant fighting over unimportant issues
or who's right?

The rivalry for people's attention,
the same someone that all of you like, always.

The unspoken competition over holidays, events, dresses
and boys, they always have to be better.

The fact that they never want to talk about it.
How can they expect you to drop it, to forget?
It's impossible.

The worst of it, however, is not in the issues, but in the repetition.
It would be bearable if it was every now and then,
but it seems to be consistent these days.
And I can't get away for a while
because I think I kind of love them you know.
In a way, they make my day interesting
and without them, life would be boring.

I just wish that I didn't love them,
because it's that or I'd have to ask them to change,
and I can't ask them to change you know,
because I'd hate it if I had to change.
I'm myself, and I like that.

Day by day I'm tested and know
that soon I'm gonna blow,
but for now, my love for them suppresses my anger,
my pain, my tears
and my heartache.

This is not friendship, it is the beginning
of a sisterhood.

"Memory of the Best" by E Pienaar

"It was a promise, no in fact it was more than that. It was put forward as a statement. Something of certainty, not so?" The old beshrivelled man held his audience's attention with beady squinting eyes that glared out from under the wisened wrinkles that wreathed them in the centre of his old face. He was not a large person. His black, thick-soled soles barely touched the floor as he sat at the table and the long coat that swatched him seemed to suffocate him.

"One would have thought that in a small village such as this where everyone knows everyone down to the names of the geese that swim in the park's pond, you would have remembered a man as marvellous as I."
Looking at him no-one in the village's bar thought that the old man looked anything near marvellous. On closer inspection his teeth were tinged brown, his eye whites yellow and his skin and clothes covered in grime. In fact, close inspection was hardly necessary as even in a passing glance the unkeptness of the old man jumped out, mugged and left one feeling dazed.

It was the village speaker who first responded, "Aye, that is how it is, it is, so we would know you; if we should we would. An' seeing as 'ow nobody 'ere knows you, you never did live 'ere you didn't!"

"Right so Mr Speaker, truly spoken and well at that!" proclaimed Mrs Baker, who baked cakes and buns in Mr Baker's bakery, turning on the old man. "You, old dear, are either an atrocious liar or quite mad and most definitely a semblance of appearance is not one of your marvellous qualities I'm afraid. Quite rude as well I might add, not even supplying a name."

"Well spoken? Madam, I beg to differ! Mr Speaker, pardon me for saying so but, the fact of the matter is that you cannot speak." Mr Speaker stood up indignantly, his face red and eyes bulging.

His words came through gritted teeth, "We Speakers have been speaking since me father's father's father's father. It 'ent easy what I do, you think you could do a better job?"

"Well that goes without saying, but say it I shall! My mastery of the spoken word can hardly be compared to the primitive grunts of your rasping voice!"
The man stood up to his rather unimpressive height, "Mr Saul Bester!" he declared, turning back to Mrs Baker, "And best you remember it!"

"Are we human?" by N du Santos

There are many conspiracies which make us fearful of what each day will bring. Conspiracies such as "global warming", "the end of the world in 2012" and the search for "new planets". But while more than half the world focuses on these fantastical things, real people are dying, suffering every day in the streets of every country.

Countries spend millions researching our world just to conspire about when it is all going to end. We have been shown things that don't exist as an effort to make us fearful about things we don't know about -and this non-reality has become more of a focus in our lives than Reality. The reality that in many third world countries thousands of people are dying every day due to poverty, hunger and war. But all we care about is our own end in 2012 and about making sure that the planet survives, not its people.

The US government has spent a lot of money during the past few years on building spacecraft to reach the moon, on developing instruments to study stars and other planets but the findings are always either hidden from the public, or the public is fed meaningless information regarding these 'findings'. During the Cold War, Russia and America focused made their priority the construction of spaceships to reach the moon -costing more money ever spent by a government on a single project in history.

But in the real world, like Zimbabwe, people get beaten up and thrown off their land for standing up their government. People die for blood diamonds and oil.

The fact that we do not care as much about the suffering of real people as we do about what we can achieve, where we can go and what can kill us proves that humanity has learned to love material things more than we love Humanity.

We should forget about spending money on these projects and focus on looking after People. Governments should spend more money on helping its people than on trying to outshine other national authorities. We must learn to think about others.

"Eternal Memory" by L Kingwill

The box is nearly full. Straightening up, I glanced around, looking for anything I missed. It's all here: your glasses, watch, empty wallet, shaving gear, a belt that somehow hadn't been taken with the rest... it seems surprisingly little. I stand still, suddenly aware of sounds travelling up from downstairs. I probably should have been down there ages ago, but I don't move. Instead I anxiously look around again, seeking a distraction, an escape, before reality can penetrate completely. It's the letters that catch my eye; the gleaming gold "PHOTO ALBUM" reflecting the sunlight. I stare for a second, hesitating, then take it off the shelf. The worn red leather is rough and heavy in my hands.

The first is a baby photo, you're perhaps a week old. You sleep with your fists clenched, eyes squeezed tightly shut. A Winnie the Pooh dummy has fallen out ofyour mouth, forming a damp spot on the pillow. "First night in own cot!" reads the inscription below.

Three pages further and you have a fierce frown, flying down a short tar driveway. Eyes wide, mouth open and blonde curls flying, you grip your first bicycle's handlebars tightly, your legs kicked out high above the safety wheels. A red superman cape streams behind you: party hats and cups litter the background. A woman in a floral skirt bends over to pick them up, her back to the camera.

The Matric dance and my entrance. It's the only photo I agreed to that night. The bright light shines on us, you with your tailor-made tux, easy smile and those tussled curls. I smiled timidly in my homespun dress and borrowed high heels, trying to look confident. The jewel-coloured fabrics draping the surroundings seem to enclose us into a perfect portrait.

A wedding photo, taken from a distance without us realizing it. It's late in the evening already, my satin dress gleams faintly in the darkness. Your outline blends into the lake behind us. I lean with my head against your chest, your hand is about to touch my hair.

There we are in Park Town maternity clinic. A nurse must have taken the picture - idiotic but proud and excited smiles shape both our faces. Between us, only a small arm manages to push its way through the swaddle of blankets, reaching up its tiny fingers.

The last page, again in hospital. No smiles now, no matter how hard you tried. The fluorescent light reflects off your bald head, your sunken eyes stare despondently at the camera. Next to you are drawings of stick figures in bright pastel colours. It comes back to me now, the smell of the disinfectant, the sound of crying children and chatting nurses, the machine's endless beep beep beep...

The album falls through my shaking hands to land with a thud on the floor. I stare hard at it, aware that the picture is beginning to blur. From downstairs the sound of murmured voices and clinking glass drifts up to me, surrounds me, breaking through the haze, forcing me to listen. I rush through the glass doors onto the veranda, gasping the fresh sea air. It cools the tears on my face.

His footsteps are so light that I not realise he is there until a small warm hand slips into mine.

"Mommy?" Anxious grey eyes stare up at me from under a mop of tussled blonde hair.
"Mommy, Ouma says it's time to come down now."

For a second, I stare across the street to the constant rolling waves of the ocean.

"It's alright, honey. I'm coming."

I let him lead me back into the room and downstairs. When we enter, I smile.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Education vs Uniform" by Sasha Tinelli

Does it really matter what colour socks you are wearing when learning the chemical properties of phosphorus?

Many believe that it makes no difference what you are wearing when you learn something.
In many schools today it is compulsory to wear a certain uniform or if the uniform is not worn correctly the student is in some way prosecuted. But school uniforms also create the very opportunity for such prosecution: a tie and button shirt -students aren't very comfortable and decide to make themselves comfortable, but this is when the trouble starts.

Teachers believe that it is disrespectful for students to dress in their own style. Students, although, feel more comfortable learning in their own clothing. Is a uniform not then a way to make money and simply publicise the "neat" student who represents the school?

Others, however, argue that without a uniform learners are uncontrollable and too relaxed -which is not what school is about. School is about learning and unformity and responsibility.

Whether students are dressed the same, or in their own version of what is fashionable, teachers will still teach the same lessons with the same curriculum; so why does the information not sink in? Because, some say, a student dressed in a way that expresses their individuality will, as a result, act out disrespectfully. If this is true then wearing a uniform is a better policy for a school.
But surely a line should be drawn at the details: handing out detention to students for not wearing a belt or the right socks when the rest of their uniform is correct may be taking it too far. Does a different belt or a more comfortable pair of socks spell loss of control? And of whose?

"Vegetarians vs Meat-etarians" by Lara Schulte

Are you vegetarian or are you a meat eater? Are you one of these for a reason, or just because it's part of your everyday life to either eat a scrumptious, juicy piece of meat or to eat a veggie burger? Are you wondering what the right choice is?

Personally, I strongly feel that being a vegetarian is a good thing. I am sure you didn't know that for every kilogram of meat, 4 000 litres of water was used? -Another thing we should consider to save more of -water. But that is slightly off topic.

Being a vegetarian is difficult though, especially in a country like South Africa. People here eat meat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even in between as a snack. South Africans eat biltong like it's part of their recommended daily protein allowance. Eating meat is like brushing your teeth; something you do without even thinking about it. But do they think about that cow that has been killed just to be put into one of those little Woolworths packets and consumed at break time by some child in some school in some place in South Africa?
But I'm not saying it's a bad thing to eat meat. On the contrary, actually.

Meat is the main source of protein for the human body. It is healthy and is needed in the daily diet of the average person. But, is it needed in such high quantities? Is it possible to eat meat but to eat only the necessary amount?
Of course it is. And so our simple conclusion is: eat less meat.

"Rhinos endangered because of Chinese medicine" by Lara Schulte

There are only eight specimens of the Northern White Rhino left on the earth. The rest have died out, they will never be seen again by man. But maybe that is for the best...

Human = Greed. An equation that has been proven correct by humanity itself. Men kill these poor creatures with nothing else in mind but money. Rhinos get killed for their horns, whereas other animals get killed for their skin. The population of big animals in South Africa has dropped by 59 % since 1970. You know who's responsible for that.

Poachers kill for the meat as well. So basically, animals' lives are being taken and some
animal species are almost extinct because we like the taste of their flesh? I know I may be simplifying the equation here but it is, after all, the truth.

The value of rhino horns lies in China. The rhino horn is ground to make medicine to cure fevers and pain. Surely a different type of medicine can be used, with scientific research advancing by the second in the world we live in today?

Once again mankind is proving itself greedy. The poor creatures are dying out and still man is killing to make some kind of "medicine" to "cure" an ailment that is not even fatal.

"Something Special" by Alexis Wellman

Breaths teaken;
steps made;
trust earned.
Little things that mark the passing of time.
Time only desired to be spent with you.
Hearts torn when separated;
hearts mending with a new day and the promise of sight.
Little things that mark the beginning of love.

Love only desired to be freed for you.
Connections made;
glances exchanged;
whispers under our breath.
Little things that mark secrets being shared,
Secrets I trust you to keep.
Time, desired, beginning, love, trust and keep.
The little things that mark something special.

Want to find out more about free-verse poetry?

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Moonless" by Simone Storey

I sit alone under the sky,
My soul echoes my heart's cry.

Footprints lead nowhere in the sand,
Cold reaches out its opening hand.

I accept and filled with chill,
I shiver now, numb with thrill.

The night too long, I canot hope
I wonder, how will I cope?

The beach is empty, no smile of joy,
Only dark is left - ready to destroy.

The waves still crash and thrash and beat,
Against me now, as I drown in defeat.

Brave lights shine far, far away,
Meek stars glitter - too scared to play.

Time walk away, leaving me behind,
Who knew Time to be so unkind?

I refuse to have my soul bought,
Bug gasp with breath so short.

For a single moment there is no light,
I sit alone on this moonless night.

"The Feather" by Simone Storey

When the feather breathes,
The whole world sighs,
When the feather floats,
The heavens rise.

When human sees the feather,
The battle has been won,
When love sees the feather,
A friendship has begun.

When hope sees the feather,
There is a chance to seize,
When I see the feather,
It is carried by the breeze.

"In Solemn's Bed" by Michael Goldsmid

Time slows, and with each fading tick
I wonder at what might have been
The glinting-gold tapestry has been woven,
And freed men have breathed
While the ground slithers black and a sundried youth
Bathe in a fettered silver dream

An unsmoothed curtain of heaving, rolling red
Clouds my broken vision and wets my bed.
The heart of time and breath is in me,
The cold of summer sun and falling hell
Are coming undone

I've spent my life in quiet limbo,
In unfound promise and glittering regret,
Days have past, detached and loosened from myself,
From that on which my heart was set

In custardy and sun-filled youth
I dreamed of being great and true and wise,
Of an ideal that I have failed
Free me, find me, fetch me, feed me, fail me
A blood-red fruit has fallen from its tree.

Have I spent a single moment drinking in life's honeyed milk?
Has meaning filled me, or covered my tracks?
Or should I thank you for what was?
As I sit in Solemn's bed and inhale a stale, quiet dread.
I think of a life well lived, well fed
If I should stand on the threshold of eternal rest,
And be invited in,
I might hope that a life's time was used closely,

And that I do not stand alone and think
Without flaxen life's evanescent ink.

"The Last Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy" by Sarah de Villiers


Autumn's glory had flickered and faded,
Spring had blossomed the delights she offered,
And Summer had her rays worn weary and dim.
Now the emptiness of Winter began to consume all that remained.

A fleck of light and the scent of glee,
One note hung loosely in the air.
A twirl, a leap, a flash of life.
A twinkling laugh and glittering eyes.
Paused, the forest listened to the memory.

A dew drop shivered and a petal froze
As the bitter breeze stalked the sounds of joy.
A tender, tip-toed dance of grace
In a dress of Dawn's splendour
Had the sinister cold creeping
Towards the heart of the woods.

Her swan-like arms and blissful soul
Celebrated the icy day,
With a swirl and a song,
A smile and a skip.
But the cold it did her seek.

And beneath that empty washed-out sky,
Beside the dying rose,
A Sugarplum Fairy her last dance did love,
Before the cold it did her find.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"It was a pleasure to burn" by Alexander Schwalb

"It was a pleasure to burn," said Amelia van Delizor to the grim reaper. "No, honestly. When they lit the fire I had pure delight. Even if they didn't tie me up, I still wouldn't have tried to escape." Grim just look at her and had a look in the cavity where his eyes should be that said, "Oh no, not another crazy one."

They were on a small boat on the River Styx. It was night, but there were no stars in the sky.
The light from Grim's lantern didn't travel far in the thick mist. Grim started speaking. You could see his jaw bones moving, but his deep voice was coming from all around. It make faint ripples in the flat, dreary water around the boat. He said to Amelia, "It's a long trip to... you know where you are going. Tell me about your life story."

"My mom died giving birth to me in 1818 in England. It was probably then when I developed my unique syndrome. Ever since I could remember, I loved getting hurt. My father was one of the leading biologists in that time. He sad there were two connections in my brain that crossed and therefore I perceived pain as pleasure.

When I was eleven, my father never returned from the woods after hunting. The street was my new home. I would have gone hungry for weeks. I could only drink muddy water from the puddles. The sky was my roof, but it had some leaking problems. I was a vagabond at the bottom of the chain of being. Most would have hated my life, but I loved it. It was my
paradise to be freezing at night and being so hungry it hurt. I loved everything from the rashes and sores to the rat bites and infections.

After a few years I unfortunately became used to the pain, and I had to find new ways to hurt myself. I would usually run into walls at full pace or jump off of houses. I would damage other people's property so that they would hurt me. Everyone knew me by my surname, Van Delizor. It became a new term, that if someone damanged someone else's goods, you would that they vandalize.

People came from far and away to see me hurt myself. When the king heard of me, he hired me to entertain him. Those were the best years of my life, because in the castle, they had torture machines. The king offered me my own royal chamber, but I chose to sleep outside. Sadly, there were no rats near the castle.

The archbishop did not like me, so he convinced the king to send me back to live with the peasants. It wasn't the same without the torture devices, so things went bad. I started stealing pitchforks to stab myself. I drank poison every night. I ate my own flesh!
By now, people had grown tired of me. They accused me of being a witch.

Then came the happiest few minutes of my life -my death. I was publically burned. It is obvious that if one's ultimate pleasure is pain, then one's happiest moment in life is death. That day, the last Van Delizor died."

In the distance, Amelia saw the shore at the end of the River Styx. The small boat stopped in the sand. There were two inter-dimensional doors. The Grim Reaper said, "All witches go through the left door, so will you. I am sorry. You seem so friendly, but it's not my decision to make." Amelia replied, "Don't be sorry, I am going to love this!"

You may wish to read more about women like Amelia who were accused of witchcraft in Salem in 1692 at http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/salem.htm

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"The Meaning of Life" by Daniel Baker

The meaning of life lies unto ourselves
With limitless bound'ries and timeless walls;
I care not for I understand myself:
The meaning of life never fails, nor falls.
Maybe it will stop and wait for a few,
Trust me, it's not waiting for you -but for:
Those who play their cards right, bring luck to view,
Life is a journey with its own dancefloor.
Whene'er I live and love, or love and die,
And trust the future to set all things fair,
Open my mind to the cornerless sky,
To find my inner self, I truly dare.
To live is to love, to love is to gain;
And I also, I shall be back again.

"What I Fear" by Sonya Linkov

Boys should not be touched. No, should not be brushed against. Every extra kilogram; every twinge of nausea must be investigated. Menstruation days must be crossed off with joyous red ink. My greatest fear creeps from within, siphoning blood and stretching tissues and enslaving the body.


I suffer from chronic stomach pains, with a nervous habit of clutching my stomach as I walk, and a day without nausea is inconceivable. Dr Hosking put it down to anxiety, folded his hands together and said that, unfortunately, there is not much he can do for me. But I know that it is a warning, or a premonition. The hollow teardrop-shaped shrine within me is protesting, punishing me and punishing the world which created it.

Young girls are taught to fear the consequences: the parents' rage; the lost childhood and education; the slow trickling away of society. Yet worse than the tears and the closed future and the judgment, I fear the thing itself: wrapping my body around itself, then emerging in a scarlet flood with blinking eyelashes like whips, taking in the world and plotting how to rule it.

On the beach, in the supermarket, on the school grounds even, I scan every passing girl's or woman's stomach with wide eyes. Should I see one straining against clothes, the initial desperate urge to find a restroom is replaced by curiosity about the woman. Furtively, like a smitten boy, I peer at her face. Usually serence as a marble Madonna-to-be; never hateful. I lower my eyes in guilt. As she moves on, my eyes stray upwards again, and I peel away the cradle of membranes, blood and amniotic fluid.

A dumb swimmer, neatly folded like a picture in the midwifery textbook. Gilled like a fish and beaked like a bird. A little heart and a little brain like red cherries in a warm, bloody jelly. A blameless criminal, hung on a rope that can resurrect or strangle. An alien. A monster...

Babies. Everywhere I look; babies in prams, babies on television, babies on the tongues of women as they balance their teacups and slices of cake... I wonder, do a woman's hopes and dreams, her drive for autonomy, her power - in short, everything that separates her from an egg-laying hen - blow away like paper birds at that first cry?

Could I end a life? That is the question that looms out of the deep. Plastic dolls in sterile buckets. The grime-coated inside of a shack, and a woman with a coat-hanger. Cord-strangled ditch-delivereds. How much can the nervous systems stretching their feathery fingers through the little body feel? And yet, is it not better to die innocent than to live the life of a timid forest creature amongst refuse bags, fight crows for another bread crust, run as Mother hurls a punch or a knife...? Better I will not be able to offer.

I think about childbirth. The cold steel torture tale, my belly obscuring view; the doctors shouting inanities whilst judging; hating. All this time, the pain, the ocean of pain; screaming; my alien stomach hanging marble-heavy around my head, and then once every drop of strength has been wrung out of me as though I am a scrap of washing, the screaming of another voice...

The vision fades in oily slicks of nausea as I imagine the baby, plump and smiling, in a pram sprigged with ribbons. First tentative steps; every gurgle a mispronounced first word.

The love sticks in my throat, and I turn away.

"To a boy raped at Abu Ghraib Prison" by Sonya Linkov

They pinned your nerves out on the screen
Curled you in formaldehyde, small singularity
Bound you with sinews, pulled ends in a bow
And sold and re-sold you, gift and discardment,

To us at half-price with the evening bulletin.
Glued together; propped up; not quite human.
One ambidextrous hand, or rather a paper bag
Over a face more interesting to this sideshow.

Should we mourn you? The advent of disgust
Tainted such thoughts, besides it wasn't our duty.
Yet somehow, the accusation when it caught us
Had to scream, because our heads were bowed.

How could we dare to disregard the women? You
Became a small passing, smothered in suffering.
The burqas soared like terrible birds as the sun
Forgot you, and a fence imprisoned the wind

And needles pierced our lips to silence. Unlike you
-Apologies, the women - we had never learnt
The language of rape. And still we chose to stay
At this funeral, this circus, this ever causeless rally.

We know rapes are undemanding. They refuse
Toys, obey a skilled keeper, propagate so easily.
Have few qualms on diet. Mouths necklaced
With saliva, they roar like African cats: Meat!

One chanced to find you, beneath that bloody sun...
We swarmed; we lapped your cloud of shame,
We thought a virgin's blood, the purest of the pure
Once spilled, could heall all ills. So why did yours

Have such a bitter taste? Had it been sullied by
The rust upon the scale we chose to weigh it on?
Your frailty on one side, the women on the other:
The only way we knew. Perhaps, it would be best

To let your blood-wings fly you to the women.
They would cradle your teardrop-heavy head
And stroke it through that egocentric spasm when
Amidst human dust and city shards, you dared

To pray for a shroud.

"Over the Edge" by Emma Tough

Unlike most teenagers I was not interested in my image or status. I did not care for gadgets or accessories. Relationships, as well as friendships, were beyond me. There was only one thing that mattered in life and that was flying.

I would wake up early every Saturday morning and make my way to the bumpy farm runway. Billy, the old manager, would take me up and we would circle until we reached a thousand feet. Billy would then press the releae button, the door would shoot open, I would count slowly to five, take a deep breath and then jump.

There is nothing like the feeling of falling at terminal velocity, knowing that the parachute might not open but not caring. All you can see through blurry, watery eyes is the earth moving slowly towards you. The wind rushes past your ears, drumming out all thought. My body was pummelled and moulded by just the sheer force of the air. Nothing and no one mattered in that moment, except me.

After a matter of seconds I would pull the parachute and make my slow decent onto the field. Those last few minutes hanging in the air under a great cloud of silk were always filled with excitement and disbelief at what I had just experienced.

There is nothing in the world as freeing and uplifting as stepping out of your box and over the edge.

"Media at War" by Nicolai Haussamer

When nations are at war, we turn to the media to give us, what we believe, is a truthful and unbiased account of the events taking place in the world. Without the internet, television, newspapers, magazines, radios and countless other forms of media, we would be somewhat lost in confusion and ignorance of that which happens around us. However, sometimes what we are told to accept as the truth or adopt as the right perspective is cleverly manipulated to indoctrinate certain beliefs, not shared by the general public and potentially detrimental to a nation at war, and so the clash between the freedom of expression and various other rights and freedoms enter the fray.

When we talk about war, we are discussing conflict. Not an argument or a debate; war means bloodshed. It determines who lives and who dies. During war a constant threat exists towards the common man on the street and the welfare of a country as a whole on a much larger scale. One issue which has become prevalent in the world is the censorship of the media during times of war, id est a government's restriction of certain articles, photographs or broadcasts which may be made public. The word "restriction" immediately aggravates human rights activists and other liberals who believe that, given any set of circumstances, freedoms should not and can never be forfeited. While their argument may remain valid this is, however, only one side of the argument.

In the context of South Africa, which is not presently at war (on any international level anyway - fueds between political parties are a different matter), it is relatively easy to conclude which arguments would arise, should the media be censored by government during a war. As previously mentioned, there is the view of the rights activist, or more realistically, the freedom activist. After all, the only problem which these members of the public can advocate against is the restriction of the freedom of expression, nothing else. Section 16 in Chapter 2 of the Constitution of South Africa states that, "everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media; freedom to receive or impart information or ideas; freedom of artistic creativity; and academic freedom and freedom of scientific research." From this is seems only logical that the media should have the freedom to do as they wish and publish whatever they see fit.

Yet the fact that this is only a freedom is pivotal in the argument for media censorship. Before this argument can be fully understood, a clear distinction has to be made between rights and freedoms. While there is a rather fine line between the two, there is a fundamental difference. Rights are something which all people in South Africa have, irrespective of nationality, race, gender or even legal status. A freedom, on the other hand, is the power to act without imposed restraints as one wants, but, importantly, is subject to limitations or complete removal. To clarify: everyone has the right not to be subjected to slavery or forced labour, meaning that, given any condition, nobody in our country may be forced into labour intensive tasks if it is not their will. Everybody also has the freedom of trade, occupation and profession, however, one cannot trade vast quantities of abalone acquired and possessed illegally. So it should be clear that rights have to remain in place, no matter what, while a freedom is subject to being limited, changed or removed.

What remains is the analysis of the argument from the side of the government, which is also valid given the above clarification of rights and freedoms. As explained in the introductory paragraph, war means conflict; conflict means life and death. Everyone has the right to life, and as a right, this supersedes the freedom of expression. In all likelihood, the question on the reader's mind is something along the lines of, "How do the two correlate?" It seems outlandish to make such a strong statement without sufficient evidence as to why it is important, so it needs to be expanded and explained by reference to:

"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

It is necessary to adopt the perspective of the common man while his country is at war. Suddenly, life has changed. Everything has become more difficult. Inflation and taxation has increased to accommodate for the excessive use of resources and an increased national defence budget, and this means a lower quality of life for the common man earning (hopefully) the same salary as before the conflict. This, naturally, causes the man to be upset or angry, but there is nothing he can really do about it. At the end of the day, when he reclines in front of the television, the anchorman with the optimistic smile reassures him that his country is one step closer to ending the conflict and making life better for all, and so the man can feel better with the reassurance that things will improve; life will get better, eventually.

If the media has full freedom during times of war, a potentially cataclysmic problem could arise. With the freedom of expression in full swing, those whose beliefs stand against the war and the government would have their views broadcasted, their horrific photographs displayed and attempts to turn the general public against the government printed. In turn, this lack of faith in the government's course of action would result in division within a nation. Gradually people would begin to listen to these arguments and reason that the government is acting, as they see it, incorrectly. During a conflict, there is only one way for the public to effectively convey such a belief to the powers that be: protest. Whether in the form of strike action or destructive marches through the streets, people would gather in mass and abandon their jobs, and thus their necessary contribution to society. From this, the government would be fighting on two fronts, making it a lot more difficult to sustain the welfare of their country. In fact, the potential exists for a nation to collapse from the inside, as various sectors shut down as a result of infuriated, dissatisfied protest. In its weakness, the country remains unable to defend itself and so it is attacked or invaded and countless civilian lives are lost.

Everybody has the right to life, and as such, it is the government's mandate to ensure, by any means necessary, that this right is upheld. From the previous analysis it is evident that in such a scenario, the government will have to protect the citizens of its nation from themselves. This may sound ludicrous, but the majority of people do not have the higher order understanding required to see that is of utmost importance not to have a massive movement against the government while their country is actively at war. Even if the reasons for the war are illegitimate, it is better for the nation to remain undivided.

The right to life supersedes the freedom of expression. Expression is a dangerous thing which threatens the lives of a nation's citizens when the nation is at war. While governments should always do their best to allow freedoms to be exercised, there are more important rights which have to be upheld and so perhaps it is, in fact, better to allow media censorship during war. Ideas which promot division, when set free in the public domain, lead to division. A country cannot uphold itself when divided. After all, "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

"We cannot afford to lose" by Hayden Searle

No one saw it coming. It came out of the unknown and killed millions. We were not prepared. We were not warned. We didn't stand a chance. Years later some stood up, took a stand, fought for survival. But it seemed to be too little too late. With millions already dead and dying, could it be stopped?

Does this sound like a preview to a new Terminator movie? Maybe another apocalyptic prediction?

Well it has happened. And it is here.

After many years of fighting in every way we know how, without a cure and thousands more dying, we have found other methods to eradicate the Red Plague. And it seems as if we may survive, even win. Drugs can only prolong the sufferer's life, but they cannot stand against death indefinitely. Prevention has become the best way to survive the onslaught, and it is working.

But we need to remember that we are fighting the disease, not the people who are suffering from it. In these times of crisis, compassion, love and honesty are just as necessary in fighting the disease head on, as the pursuit of a cure. There are few ways that one can contract the virus, and things such as hugs or sharing a cup or fork with HIV positive people will not get you infected. Treat sufferers of the disease with love and compassion - they are not the disease.

We will defeat HIV and AIDS, we can win this war.

"The Idea that Killed" by Michael Goldsmid

The Nature of Apocalyptic Religion and Modern Political Ideology

The religion and dominant philosophies that shaped the past predict the end of the world. Big statement. But, it essentially confirms a belief, or rather, an assumption that the overwhelming majority of Westerners still have. Nevertheless, one has to wonder what the end of the world means, and what parts of those philosophies predict it. Essentially, the end of the world means the end of the world as we know it, and the creation of utopia.

Think Christianity - The Book of Revelations predicts a new age, a time where Christ would rule utopia for a thousand years, and this would be attained by a purification, whereby all non-believers and wrong-doers (essentially all those who do not confirm to the ideals and values as set out by Christianity) would be left behind in the Rapture. All true believers are allowed to enjoy the kingdom of heaven, but being part of "the chosen few" seems to depend on whether you are the right denomination of Christian, (although no one really knows what that is yet). In essence the idea that we are interested in here is that, as it is implied, the modern world is plagued by evils and these things need to be destroyed, after which a new, better age will begin.

Modern 'political religions', whether extinct or not, share this view. Communism, Nazism and Jacobinism - these have all had a huge effect on the modern world. They had the notion that the world needed to be cleansed. But, what is the difference here? In Christianity, it was God who would bring about the end of the world, not man. This distinction, ironically, was brought about by something quite un-Christian - the enlightenment. As culture was detaching itself from the tenets and praxis of religion, and attempting to find itself in rational analysis and fact, it could not rid itself of this idea that had imprinted itself onto the collective consciousness of Europeans. And so - because, as Nietzsche famously stated, "God is Dead" - who would bring about the apocalypse, but man?

Revolutionary culture all began with the French Revolution. Here the evils in question were the very real ones created by a classist system and an ineffectual monarchy. The Reign of Terror, led by Robespierre and the Jacobins, led to the deaths of from 18 000 to 40 000 people. Violent repression was used to crush resistance to the government - after all, who was to stand in the way of utopia? Things needed to change, and if a perfect world was to be created, the exercise of violence was considered acceptable to ensure this. Thus, democracy was born.

Violent change has been inextricably associated with revolution. Another example is communism, where the perceived ills were inequality and modern culture. Twenty million died. Nazism held that the major cause of the problem was cultural inferiority - Jews chiefly. Eleven million died, six million of which were Jews. The Third Reich was to be ruled by a chosen few, and was meant to last for a thousand years - sound familiar?

As for perfect people, the story is similar. The Ubermensch (the super man) was a part of Nietzsche's philosophy - a goal towards which humanity should work. In National Socialism, it led to the idea of the Aryan Race, and attempts to create this super-race were made, attempts such as the SS (the idea was to build a force of physically and mentally superior Aryans representative of the Nazi ideology) and Nazi breeding programmes. Scientific racism and eugenics, although also spurred on by the European assumption of superiority upon finding supposedly inferior native inhabitants during the age of discovery, fit into the idea of the Ubermensch.

Even though they may have tried to escape the influence of religion, the idea that killed remained. All of these ideologies have several things in common. They all essentially believed that they could create utopia. A chosen few would be allowed to exist in this world. And most importantly, they held that the world needed to be rid of the "evils" that beset it. The problem, in Christianity, Communism and Nazism, is that they assume that these evils can be destroyed. It is always evil that stands in the way of transformation, and never the flaws inherent in human nature. It is this fact, that human nature doesn't change, that is the reason that all those ideologies in their purist form, failed. The exception being Christianity, because, in this case the instigator of change was God, not man.

However, the idea that killed, might also be called the idea that birthed. From both the wonderful and terrible results of its existence, we have important and workable concepts such as democracy, inalienable human rights and most importantly -freedom.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"I can't see my eyes" by Alexander Schwalbe

Judas came to me
And he told me to betray
The ones I love
In an unholy game we play

Choices, I had none
I had to rip an entire page
Out of the book of life
Or I'd be kicked off stage

I have lied enough
To myself and you all
It was all my own idea and my fault
To make the golden anvil fall

The black sonnet still echoes
Inside this tyrant's mind
The only altruistic deed I can do
Is suicide

Now the angels caught me,
They know ev'ry lie is true
Better hope I don't escape,
'Cause then I'll come for you

I know I deserve this,
I know I am a sinner
Although I walk on clouds,
The ice becomes thinner

I am beyond time,
This pain lasts an eternity
The angels torment me,
I'll never be free

My mind is distorted;
My heart is full of lies
My hair blows in the wind,
And they cut out my eyes

I jumped up to shout in agony
The dark doesn't affect the blind man,
For the blind man cannot see

A single roar of my powerful voice
Blew out the faint candle light
I killed them with the aid of echoing noise
Now my curse is to hunt in the night

I fly the seven skies
To the four far corners of the earth
Dark and light fuse with day and night
The result: my birth

I am the dawn you seek
I chase the dusk you fear
The blood of the blind makes the piper weep
And it draws the vampires near

The pharoah killed the serpent
And he heeds the calls of my cries
The ranger refuses to repent

An eye for an eye made me blind,
And such will it do to most
But if you're nice you lose no eyes,
But don't dare boast

This was said by Ghandi,
It was his conception
But with only one eye
You lose depth perception

How can I cry if I have no eyes?
Where do the tears come from?
Grim reaper please tell me,
Your eyes too are gone
I am blind but I don't see black,
I see the future now
It's a psychedlic world of war
And it knows only one sound


The brewer brews with poison ivy
In the carnival of slaves
In the unknown spiral of the galaxy
Hidden in the inter-dimensional cosmic caves

I go to the end of the universe
Trying to find synthetic optics
Then I can lift my curse
But which eye will I pick?

I am the dawn you seek
I chase the dusk you fear
The blood of the blind makes the piper weep
And it draws the vampire near

The pharoah killed the serpent
And he heeds the call of my cries
The ferryman refuses to repent

Right and left
Wrong and correct
There was a theft
Myself I suspect

Repent for your sins
Revenge for theirs
The freemasons won't free my sons
And broken hearts, the blacksmith can't repair

Unless it's a heart of gold!

As I have no sight
I travel faster than light
How can I be limited by something I don't perceive?
How can I be stopped if I believe?

But I'm going too fast,
I'm going into space
Heading straight for Jupiter,
I'm gonna lose my face

Mayday! Mayday!...

Am I in heaven, am I in hell
If I had eyes, maybe I could tell
If I'm dead,
Where's my requiem mass
Something clicked in my head
Made of Jupiter's gas!

I am the dawn you seek
I chase the dusk you fear
The blood of the blind makes the piper weep
And it draws vampires near

The pharoah killed the serpent
And he heeds the call of my cries
The ferryman refuses to repent

"About: love, I guess" by James Silvester Davies

Hello dear reader, and if you don't mind here is a question: have you ever heard of a philosopher by the name of Virgil?

If you have, well done! I assume you are one of those clever people who like to pester teachers and annoy classmates by asking questions like you are auditioning for Who wants to be a millionaire? (which you may well do, annoying classmates even more by winning tons of cash for what is essentially a load of trivial piffle). If you have not, join the club. In all honesty, I thought virgil was a sort of verb (virgil: v. constant vigilance of thought and deed. Hmmm :-O) until a couple of weeks ago when I found out that he was the author of the oft quoted phrase "love conquers all". And then I read the thoughts of a man trying to interpret this.

I am of course referring to the little known author Leontyne Bennett in his book The Commonwealth of Lost Vanities. Obviously.

(It's very difficult to write sarcastically. So just use your imagination, think sarcasm sundae with quirk and humour sauce with maybe a dollop of irony).

Anyway, time to cut the cake :-D. Leontyne's book manages to masterfully dissect a phrase that is prized by many aficianados and romanticised by teenage girls (read twilight-enthusiasts) the world over. It's actually quite sinister, Leontyne points out that virgil never said love frees all, or love accommodates all. No it's love conquers all: "conquer-vb 1 To overcome. 2 To defeat. 3 To gain possession or control of by means of force or war. 4 To enslave." (Collins english Dictionary; 2000). Love conquers all, the bad and the good. Love will take you over completeley and enslave your life, is the gist of Leontyne's words and that Virgil's words were not a cute announcement but a warning to evade this feeling at all costs!

Leontyne died alone in 1984 from cirrhosis of the liver, no-one attended his funeral but his housekeeper and his Editor from Tyrolian press, so we can safely assume that he followed his own miserable advice. But it is worth heed. Sometimes love hits us like a bolt from the blue, it's beautiful and we cannot but live with it, it would be a crime not to. But if the rose tint on your glasses is turned up too high one can miss nasty character traits and mistake someone for being perfect; true love is still loving someone once your realise that they are not.

So that's my message; it probably doesn't help your teenage angst at all, but please don't forget to tip when you win a Million dollars.

"There's an Albino in the cupboard and I've misplaced the keys" by Peter Viljoen

Before I begin, no this is not the reiteration of a particularly wild Saturday night filled with hilarious and cliche moments like "Dude, where's my car?" Nor is this going to be some sort of really odd "coming out of the closet" story filled with innuendoes that will leave some sniggering and others blushing. No, this is a pointless descriptive article about a creature prone to the outskirts of the social savannah; living separated and rejected by almost all walks of high school life...the nerd.

What is a nerd, how is he made? Does he slowly morph into his true form, or is a Nerd born, as it were, fully-spectacled? Some say it is purely contextual, the environment of the youth determines the outcome e.g. social evolution where all the big fish grow legs and one decided a retainer was in order.

Others believe that it is genetic. A person who is categorised (for my convenience) a nerd is usually a person lacking fundamental or basic social skills. Can it be that if we were to dissect a specimen we would find a smaller or larger brain, weaker eyes, skewer teeth and in some cases (Thank you Ronald Dahl) a broken heart?

Can it not be that we who are the oppressors are in the wrong? That we are in fact missing out on countless new and anti-social ways to ... um, socialize? Maybe... but let's just think of it like this: why should they be like us and why should we be like them?

We spend our breaks and free time gossiping, spreading lies, slandering and being wicked. But why not? These conversations are the ones that are normally the most fun to listen to and easy to contribute to, and in fact it has become part of our culture. But before you start feeling guilty just ask yourself this: When you sit down in the IT room and find your screen sending you angry messages in Brazilian, or flashing colours the eye was never meant to see, is it a coincidence that my bespectacled friends in the corner are giggling into their retainers?

The truth is that they are who they are and who they are is who they want to be. So leave them alone. My philosophy when it comes to the high school Chain of Being is simple: leave well enough alone. Everyone is exactly where they want to be and if they're not, then they're just not trying hard enough.

I respect the humble nerd, they have a hard time, but they are not alone or few enough in number to feel truly disliked, just different. We don't all have to be pals, so long as we can all just do our own thing, hey, leave them alone - they have World of War Craft and I have a tan.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Artz Week/24/Daze" by John Lategan

To the matrics who were wrongly denied their Arts Celebration; and an appeal to review the Arts programme for 2011.

Months upon months pass of sports matches, derby days, swimming pool fund-raising and calls for better and more sport facilities. But the damp in the bands' rehearsal space, the cramped-ness of the music room and the lack of a devoted theatre-facility is ignored: the Chapel is a chapel and the hall architecturally prevents sound from developing and thus cannot, rather, should not be used for plays and orchestral or band performances; 'twas designed for indoor sports.

So after having to endure all that, the one short week that the school focused on the Arts was always the highlight of my year. It may not necessarily have been everyone's highlight, but absolutely everyone did enjoy Artz Week. It was - besides Founders' Day, which does not really count as a student orientated tradition - the only tradition that the College recognized.

Artz Week was great. All the arts were acknowledged and it fit into the school time table beautifully. There'd be normal lessons, because the academic programme ought not to be interrupted. The Art Exhibition would take place in the hall for the duration of the week. Read and Current Affairs - two non-academic periods - would be used for Interhouse Debating and other presentations. A performer or troupe would entertain us in the last two period of Wednesday and another on Friday. And of course, the most beloved of all activities: the Interhouse Singing and Plays. These would happen in the evenings.

Thus, at most, two hours thirty minutes of actual lesson-time would be missed in that entire week; but those two and a half hours were enjoyed to the utmost by the student body, and it was a worthy tradition to uphold.

Artz 24 was introduced in 2009. It was one single day dedicated to the Arts: one day that failed. That is the truth; and we should not be ashamed to admit that Arts 24 did not succeed as well as it could have.

Because it was only one day, planning a decent programme was difficult. There was no build-up to the Interhouse Singing. The Art exhibition was only attended to for one day. the 'non-interhouse plays' were under-supported: as few people were involved and they had no Interhouse spirit. All the other Arts-week related events were cancelled. Artz 24 was an entire day missed, and not fully enjoyed.

As a result, we celebrated Artz Daze this year. I must admit that Daze was rather enjoyable; and that I was hoping to write about how bad Artz Daze was and that we need Artz Week back. But I cannot. However, the school needs to return to the original principles of Artz Week! Revive the tradition!

The Arts should be celebrated over a few days. The eisteddfod was an awesome idea (thumbs-up Chapman). My only regret is that I couldn't experience more: that is the unfortunate side of having the different sections run simultaneously.

If we celebrate the arts over a longer period of time, we can bring back Interhouse Singing and the Interhouse Plays, the essence of the Arts Celebration. Incorporate these into the eisteddfod and still bring in professional performers -that is a sure way of truly celebrating the arts.

Substantailly less (about four hours less) lesson time was "lost" during Arts Week than during both Artz 24 and Artz Daze. There is no just reason not to Celebrate, Appreciate and Sophisticatedly Elaborate on the Arts!