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‘Life of Pi’ (2012): Don’t lose your humanity – an essay by Phila Dyasi

This essay will explore and expand on the numerous foundations that creates Film Form’s four meanings in relation to Angela Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’ (2012), a drama and action film centred around spirituality and the undying human spirit. These various elements suggest or say things in larger significant manners that filmmakers have conveyed in the ideas and opinions in the film, implicitly or explicitly. The filmmakers want the spectators to grasp these referential, explicit and implicit and meanings, and in some films, for the audience to create their own meanings.

The plot is termed the referential meaning. “It’s merely a synopsis that anyone else who watches the film will likely agree with. It is essentially describing the plot of the film, telling what happens, is the simplest way to best explain it to someone else” (Jacobs, C.P. 2017). The eleventh edition of Film Art further adds that “this is very concrete, close to a bare-bones plot summary” (Bordwell, Thompson & Smith 2017). “Here the meaning depends on the spectator’s ability to identify specific items” (Bordwell et al. 2017). The film references places or thing that already exist in the real world that have some significance. Thus, to some extent it requires the viewer to be acquainted with some meanings and settings cued by the movie. During the State of Emergency period in 1975 till early 1977 as declared by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in “Life of Pi, Piscine (Pi) Molitor Patel’s father, Santosh Patel, a zookeeper in Pondicherry, India, grows nervous about the current political situation that is characterised by suspended constitutional rights and restricted civil liberties” (Spark Notes 2017). He speculates that Gandhi might try to take over his zoo and faced with depressing economic conditions, Pi’s father decides he will sell off his zoo animals in North America upon arrival and move his family of four (himself, his younger son Pi, eldest son Ravi and wife Mrs Gita Patel) to Canada by means of a Japanese freighter.  The sink ships after a terrible storm and Pi is the only human survivor in one version of the story, and/or Pi and his mother, the cook and a Taiwanese sailor the survivors in the alternative version. However, Pi is not alone in the main version; a fearsome Bengal tiger is also aboard the lifeboat. As time passes in the 227 days long ordeal, Pi is forced to trust the tiger, an internal and external conflict with self. Understanding the turmoil in India at the time, one can see the justification to up and leave a country across seas to another continent entirely. It functions to illustrate the context of the Patel family in the new India. It is effective as it sets the narrative in a larger narrative already invested with significance in the real world – history.

The meaning that is seemingly being tried to be made, or got across, that is still considerably tangible in attribution to the film. An explicit meaning is the “moral of the story” or socio-political message that channelled through actions performed by actors and words spoken by characters in the movie under the instruction of the creator of the film(Bordwell et al. 2017). This meaning is also controlled by context, within the scope of the film form. The explicit meaning, the core message herein is that even in dire situations, in acts of survival, we as humans should never abandon our humanity – our compassionate and caring nature to resort to be inhuman(e). The survival of the soul is as important as survival of the physical. This is clearly illustrated in Pi’s interaction with the tiger. He could have killed Richard Parker with an axe, or simply left Richard Parker out of the boat to drown so that his own safety is guaranteed and not consistently threatened by the beast. This is because Pi is a person of faith and great hope. His utterance in the movie that animals have souls too, which is the reason he is a vegetarian, is why he feels the need to feed the tiger, give it water to sustain it and not leave it behind on that Island that turns acidic at night. The human spirit and being civilised has not left Pi, even when he is removed from civilisation/society. This is effectively done, and consistently reinforced in the film in how Pi speaks of the animals, giving them human quality, for example when he takes his girlfriend to the zoo to see the tiger and he says Richard Parker is showing off when he turns his head like a dancer. Even by the very act of continuing to call it Richard Parker and not ‘Thirsty’. The selfishness, primal and primitiveness, greedy and violence of the hyena represents such inhumanity, a personality trait that is in humans innately, more so evident in survival situations. The fear and desperation embodied by the tiger and how it uses aggression to compensate for these emotions is telling of an emotionally immature people that might be physically mature. Perhaps, this is the case of a naïve Pi who is forced into manhood prematurely. The injured Zebra that is finished off and used as bait is telling of a society that treat the ill, the other-abled, the poor, the old and other marginalised groups of people as second-class citizens and are objectified and only seen in ways to exploit them for personal gain and development. Indeed, it is still a case of ‘survival of the fittest, elimination of the weak’ in modern day society. Perhaps, the reason humans are represented as animals is a friendly reminder how animalistic human can be. How we are animals too. At a basic level, we are capable of far worse than the beasts we fear and cage.  The love and affection of the orangutan is as inherent in humans as is the evil nature of the tiger-esque, and it is up to the individual to choose which path to follow.  This is foreshadowed by Pi’s father when he says Pi must choose a path if he is to find his way on this journey called life. Although he was talking about Pi’s multi-religiousness, it holds true for most motifs.

The abstract meaning that is implicit meaning is another level of interpretation, slightly deeper than the less-intricate referential and explicit meanings (Bordwell et al. 2017). It is a “less obvious meaning but can still be inferred by seeing how the characters change, grow, and develop throughout the course of the film” (Jacobs, C.P. 2017). Issues and ideas dealing with general human relations are mostly implicitly made. This is a comment on a broader issue or issues in society. Although some of these subtexts are intended by filmmakers, most try to avoid them altogether. Implicit meanings deal with themes. The theme of belief versus atheism is a major theme throughout the movie. Fact versus fiction. Science versus religion. Pi is the grey area between the scientific-point-of-departure of his father, and the religious moral standpoint of his maternal side, he embodies that point that assumes both fields have their uses and can co-exist, and are necessarily mutually exclusive. And like his namesake, it is irrational to argue why one is superior to the other when Science answers how when Religion answers why. Both answers are needed by humans to fully understand the world and the role of human’s in the world and have wholesome humanity. Pi articulates faith as a house with many rooms, with doubt on each floor. Perhaps Science has a room too, as a zoologist by trade in his younger years. It is in fact religion that saves his humanity whilst at sea and science that saves his life, aquatic science of swimming, fishing and so forth.

Symptomatic meaning is an interpretation that looks at the whole film as a part of the wider scope of society, reflecting and illustrating themes prevalent in the culture, in the time and place it was made, and possibly in the creator’s personal life experience (Bordwell et al. 2017). This level of interpretation tries to recognize symbolic content, identifying characters and situations as metaphors for something else, or possibly seeing the entire story as an allegory about something else (Jacobs, C.P.  2017). Film Art furthermore adds that it reveals social ideologies and set values. “It situates the film in a current trend of thought that is assumed by [that particular] society” (Bordwell et al. 2017) during a set time. Pi believes in Hinduism, then finds Christianity and later Islam completes his holy Tricia. He does not see any contradiction here, contrary to what conventional and mainstream opinion is on the issue. Pi’s higher plane of thinking is on the basis that all three religious faiths have much more in common than they are different. All three believe in a higher power, or supreme being, or a creator, which also corresponds with his unofficial-official third system of belief- science, namely the Big Bang theory that theorises that from nothing came something. Which is essentially what a miracle is – a religious phenomenon. This is a direct assault on fundamentalism that is inherent in all religions, and the violent consequence thereof.  Also suggesting that Christianity, the moral code used to justify colonialism, slavery and crusades (‘holy wars’) has no moral superiority to accuse other religions of violence. It seeks to tell us that no religion promotes violence. It is up to the individual that practises it. A direct assault to racial profiling and such. Pi has renewed hope in humanity from his faiths. Not the places of worships: church, mosque, temple, science lab – no, none of that nor the scriptures, as we see his scientific instruction on how to survive is hurled away from him by the wind – a natural element that is in the power of the Creator. Pi begins to understand how insignificant he is, and by extension humans in the greater scheme of nature and that we are from nature, the soil, and to the soil we will return. This is what the algae island that turns carnivorous by night represents about nature’s power, it can give and take – we are its mercy. It is social commentary on how humans feel entitled to exploit everything in nature for our own end and use, from food, to shelter provided by natural resources to fossil fuels. The vegetarian boy Piscine Molitor Patel has given way to survivor-contestant Pi who feeds on flesh now, even human flesh to survive. The island’s fundamental need to survive, like humans, is satisfied temporarily and unendingly through the greedy consumption of other living things. Daytime has always been associated with good, ‘godly’ things whilst night-time’s dark has been with literal darkness, or evil which is what is typical of man too. The island represents what society uses religion for: as a sense of security that all things are safe and benign if one is religious, when that is not true as dreadful things will happen to a believer too. It is the joy of reaching a plateau for temporary rest and forgetting that the summit of the mountain has not been conquered, metaphorically speaking. Pi takes a leap of faith, to challenge the great unknown of the sea again in search of humanity than this island that cannot be determined of its origin, function or its purpose. On a balance of chance, the sea is lesser risk – a scientific conclusion to some parts from Pi the zoologist. Pi’s greatest triumph is maintaining his humanity, even in the act of survival.

-nublaccsoul [new-black-soul]

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bordwell, D., Thompson, K., & Smith, J. (2017) Film Art. 11th ed. New York, McGraw-Hill Education.

Jacobs, C.P., 2017. Film Theory and Approaches to Criticism, or, What did that movie mean? [Online]. Available from: http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs/FilmTheory&Analysis.htm [Accessed 08th September 2017]

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If not fracking, then what?

The current debate about the proposed hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas in the South African Karroo region, in the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape provinces is a socio-economic dilemma with many complex components that are often over simplified for the sake of lobbying public buy-in.

The government’s posture of the issue is in line with government’s policies to address socio-economic challenges, redress issues of social inequality, reduce poverty, to develop the economy, to transform and reform the South African society and to always avail tools to access post-school training, which ties in with the social target of the millennium goals.

South Africa, in the past few years was struggling with the energy needs of a growing population, seeing load-shedding processes being applied so as to lessen the pressure on the national grid, affecting detrimentally commerce and disrupting the daily comfort and convenience of electricity to al. It is with this in mind that alternatives to the depleting energy source of coal are needed, especially ones that, unlike coal, are environmentally friendly as well, in the context of the global crisis that is climate-change, or global warming, per se.

Not only will it supplement experimental energy sources such as wind and solar energy, but it will provide a more consistent energy supply, that is also in-line with the techno-scientific advancements of the global-North. South African being an importer of gas and oil from Mozambique, makes South Africa at the mercy of the volatile markets and fluctuating currencies.

The Deputy Minister for Minerals resources, Godfrey Oliphant was quoted as saying the process will create “thousands” of jobs, which is another popular justification – that was offering much needed development to the Karoo region,

Farmers are in stark opposition of the process, citing the threat of fracking to the water reserves, which is a key resource in agricultural enterprise. The process does pollute groundwater and causes air pollution as well that threaten the livelihood of these agrarian entrepreneurs. The food security could be greatly as a result. Although the oil and gas companies like Shell, Bundu Oil & Gas Exploration are said to be offering fair compensation to farmers, most are residents that are also concerned for their personal safety and interests.

Environmentalists, such as the Academy of Science of South Africa, are concerned about a more moving motion, that could most likely result from fracking – earthquakes! The fracking process could activate dormant fault lines in the underground rocks, not only that, but also the activity of pumping high volumes of water back underground after the process has been seen to elevate the seismic activity.

In, Oklahoma, United States of America, where fracking has been practiced for years now, was surveyed by the Oklahoma Geo-logical Survey and found that the two earthquakes per day reality in that region, registering magnitudes of above 3 on the Richter scale. Natural disasters of this nature are not natural to South Africa and as such, could provide wide panic, and justly so, because of the life-threatening dangers.

The ideological standpoint, of regarding the significance of the Karoo, as an ecological heritage site, protecting the rural lifestyle in the place-of-origin rhetoric, whilst maintaining aesthetic quality is the line of argument for activists. The possible job creation element, as proposed by government, has been rebutted with highlighting that the jobs that will be possibly created are of no long-term benefit, and will be less that the jobs that will be lost as a very result of the fracking.

The historical lack of accountability by profit-chasing companies such as Shell in Nigeria, for instance, calls for a Fracking Agency to monitor this emerging industry, will the supplementation of legislative creation to create a fair point of departure for everyone involved.

 

#nbs

 

 

 

1.Government Views:

http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/govt-gives-green-light-for-shale-gas-fracking-in-karoo-20170330

 

  1. Landowners’ Views:

https://mg.co.za/article/2013-08-27-fracking-shell-south-african-shale-drive-riles-farmers

 

3.Experts’ Views:

http://www.iol.co.za/news/fracking-raises-earthquake-risk–experts-2079314

 

4.Views on unemployment:

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2013-06-26-the-karoo-desperately-needs-development/#.WRFjuoiGPIU

 

5.The viability of it as a resource:

https://www2.deloitte.com/za/en/pages/finance/articles/a-fracking-boost-for-the-south-african-economy.html

 

6.Activists Views:

http://www.herald.co.zw/sa-gas-exploration-anti-fracking-activists-remain-resolute/

 

  1. Mining-related

http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/northern-cape/fracking-to-give-karoo-uncertain-future-8628880

 

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More than Cents, They Steal Sense: A Curious Case of Woollen Wolves in “Till the day we fly free” | a poem review #InMyHumbleOpinion

The essence of this essay is an analysis of a poem by Phila Dyasi (2017). It serves as a creative response to the concept of False Prophets and its embodiments.  This poem serves as a tool to analyse the plight of Christian contemporaries at the hands of false religious persons and why the very principles of Christianity ensure that these criminals succeed. The poetry piece will be examined using a critical analysis approach.

 

Phila Dyasi – “Till the day we fly free”

 

Till the day we fly free

 

I’m reaching but never gripping,

It’s soul ripping how they’re preaching,

yet are never teaching.

 

I’ll never hide,

even when I die.

I’ll be immortalized

in some formaldehyde.

Where my soul, spirit and skin divide

I’ll be like a deity,

the higher me,

doing the Lord’s work,

hire me.

 

The humble apple-pie

can satisfy no appetite

here comes the hunger tide.

 

When wings carried Icarus

through cutting winds

we were pulled feathers

of wisdom’s birdy-body of ink

taking flight to Olympus planes

the son, seeks The Sun.

 

I’m grown now,

dealing with chronic stress,

and I believe less in a deity,

it seems like too far a stretch.

 

The stench from a faithless,

hopeless, homeless.

 

 

REVIEW

In the presentation, the speaker employs a structured aaa rhyme scheme in the first stanza. The tercet- symbolises the Christian Holy Trinity concept, to illustrate a methodical system that is synonymous with organised religions. The tone is unsympathetic to the gullible masses.

The first three lines in stanza one are told from the first-person perspective, holding an interpretation sermon delivered by a false prophet meant to help the church learn something spiritual with the teachings in the preaching. Instead, he delivers a ‘religious’ talk that is devoid of the teaching element as it does not empower, but lacks spiritual depth that resonates with the brethren. This idea of this sermon not being enough is further supplemented by line 1, showing a desire for spiritual understanding, and what religion can and cannot do for a believer, but is ill-equipped to do so by not substantiating theological resources. It always seems out of reach, ensuring congregational return and with that comes monetary offerings by the truckloads.

 

The speaker liberates himself from all forms of fear, by guillotining death. By claiming he will forever be physically whole, not subject to decomposition (ll. 4-7), he cannot be held hostage by soothsayers who will emphasise the mortal nature of man, to force persons to bow down before them, and give their tithes to ‘God’ through them, supposedly. He says that the chemical formaldehyde, which preserves the corpse and can cause its demise – so this introduced the double-edged sword argument, that without moderation all things have capacity to do good and evil, and religion is no exception. This could be advice that believers must be constructive in their opinion and not be blinded by the opium. In cases of blurred lines, false prophets appear as exploitative.  Through the usage of a personification and a simile, the speaker extends the immortality argument to the abstract realm of spiritualism, proposing that he will be divine quality posthumous, (ll. 8-12) which is the popular claim of the falsifiers of the gospels –they punt God’s work, however the puns “higher” and “hire” suggest that theirs is for monetary gain.

 

The Greek myth of ‘Icarus: The Fall’ has a moral teaching that is consistent with the theme of moderation, as “the son, seeks The Sun” (l. 21), where the sun is symbolic of the concept of God, the highest form of all.  Daedalus’ son disobeyed nature and instructions, as feathers are dually used to soar and for the archaic form of writing here, which “we were pulled feathers/of wisdom’s birdy-body of ink” could refer to the divine knowledge in the Holy Bible, and disobedience proves fatal for the falsifiers of the gospel as it did for Icarus, as he was stripped of his power.

 

The last stanza is amalgamated with stanza three because it offers a final warning that if prophets and pastors who claim to be Christians, continue to command congregants to not fall short of the contemporary gimmicks that prophets use, then Christians will lose hope, belief and trust in the word of God. The ordinary sheep of God’s flock, entrusted to the guidance of prophets and pastors, are being hunted by wolves in wool.

 

#nbs

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Day 1 | 21 FOR 21

Question: What is the most bullshit advice adults give to children?

Answer: That only strangers are dangerous.

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A VEGETARIAN VAMPIRE AMONG DIRE WOLVES

WINTER YIELDS TO SPRING,
AND  FLOWERS BLOOM AGAIN.

SOAR AS HIGH AS HONOUR,
POLLINATING MORALS ON MURALS OF MAN.

UNBOUND. UNBENT. UNBROKEN.

IN SPIRIT BEFORE FLESH.

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New Slaves

FREEDOM! Are you free or are you dom? A rhetoric worth analysing. You have to be really ‘dom’ (stupid , very stupid) to think that you are free in any way. You are ; I am ; we are all new slaves!

I greet you reader in the name of Relisha Rudd , who has been missing since March 1st 2014 , possibly sold into the wide human-trafficking network or even dead. In the name of Amanda Berry who was kidnapped, raped and held captive for 11 whole years. In the names of 276 schoolgirls who were snatched in a Nigerian primary school hostel by militant group Boko Haram. In honour of child-soldiers forced to bear arms because of malevolent army generals. To those that are subject to terrorism- lives controlled by anxiety , fear and chaos. To us all.

I reject this false and idealistic belief that generational progression exists in terms of slavery because in essence the only change is the constant re-assigning of roles as to who gets to assume the role of oppressor and who,sadly, suffers as a slave in a particular era in time.

People of colour are no longer shipped off to America to pick-up cotton in the fields instead we are force-fed false information by corporations so that we feel inferior if we do not pick some branded cotton from the most luxurious stores. We are victims of materialism. We are made to be narcisstic. The more we spend ; the less happy we are. We live beyond our means just to be on par with the latest fashion trends.

We as consumers are generally ignorant to the fact that these capitalistically driven companies make use of the cheapest labour accessible, child labour! Famous sporting brands have been said to have their manufacturers/factories operate in this oppressive system to maximise profits at the expense of a child. We wear slave shoes not sneakers!

Children are further exploited in countries like Sierra Leone in the produce of diamonds with the blood and sweat of an underaged , underpaid and overworked is synonymous with the happiness of a lady with a diamond ring. The unfairness of the situation.

Our thoughts are never our own anymore. Our minds are chained by propaganda,publicized by a spineless society. We are taught that intelligence is one-dimensional,rigidly characterized by your excellence or lack thereof in Mathematics and Sciences. What if you have absolutely no prospects of being an engineer , a medical doctor or a scientist then the best you can be in our society is mediocre. This only places unnecessary pressure on pupils that thrive in other fields of study. A true intellectual is a rope-walker , one that can strike a balance between the artistic right-side of the brain and the “logical” left-side to create a whole being.

Nowadays we seem to enslave ourselves even, to narcotics , doing anything and everything to feed our pathetic habits. It is your body shouting an order to your brain and it miserably replying with a “Sorry Baas!” to your addiction. And the people who are most harmed are our loved ones – family and friends. It is an oppression that is too often seen as fun. But if so , then why was Ellen Packies , a 52 year-old lady from Cape Town , terrorized , robbed and abused by her own son Abbie Packies for seven whole years to the point where she had to kill her own son to get her life back.

Every town on a Friday night street-corners are occupied by seductively dressed ‘ladies of the night’ that have, because of poverty, resorted to self-slavery, prostitution, opening themselves up to abuse of every kind ; sexually transmitted diseases amongst many ills. And this will only cease when society as a collective aborts this sickening idea that women are for sale.

Jean-Jacque , a philospher once said, “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.” Cast off the oppressive restrictions that bound you and run slave, RUN and never,ever look back!

by PHILA DYASI #nublaccsoul

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i would be happy if My People were free.

“Man is free ; but everywhere in chains.” I cannot fault this flawless statement by a French revolutionary. In 1994 we indeed gained political freedom from the apartheid regime but a born-free I am not. I might not know the hardships and sacrifices of “the struggle” but I do acknowledge those that fought for my freedom. But I am not completely free. I face my own struggles as a third-world-country citizen which “toyi-toying” cannot resolve.

Money is the root to all evil-wrong! The lack of money is the root to all evil so in fact money (presence thereof) is synonymous with happiness. Before you judge the depth of my character or lack thereof allow me to justify my views. Six in ten South Africans are unemployed,of the forty per cent that does contribute to the economy, seventy-five per cent of them are drowning in debt. And it is not because of purchasing luxuries but credit spent on essential items. South Africans need monetary emancipation.
There needs to be a revisit to the monetary distribution system of the country. Too much money is misused and budgets are exceeded every financial year. Ministers and other MP’s are paid massive amounts for inefficient services. These funds should be used to increase poorly-paid public servants such as, the “mother of all professions” – educators , policemen and nurses in public clinics and hospitals.

There are three ways in which one can die in South Africa : (if our notorious criminals do not get to you first) probably the deadly HIVirus will arrange your meeting with your maker but if you dodge that rest assured anxiety, stress or force of hunger will be your angel of death. In a country with one of the highest HIV/Aids infection rates in the whole world, one of the highest levels of criminal activity and widespread stricken poverty,death before 50 years is a probable factor. The government is failing its people. Public figures that should ideally be exemplary are showering after unprotected sex with an HIV positive woman. Corruption and fraud are now factors that make up the DNA of the rainbow-nation culture. Money that should be helping the poor is further widening the economic gap by elevating the rich to stinking-richer heights. Corrupt police officials are the real criminals. When will my people be set free from worry?

Instinctively all humans are animals. In the heat of the moment all rational-thinking is aborted and mob-behaviour is adopted. The on-going xenophobic attacks are pure evil by conformers and devilish ring-leaders. A hardworking international is assaulted resulting in grievious bodily harm all in the name of , “these foreigners are stealing our jobs.” And to add fuel to the fire policemen drag a fellow African brother across a tarmac chained to a van resulting in death due to injuries. Maybe the worst kind of animalistic behaviour comes from the by-standers, conforming to a code of silence. Such passive behaviour is nothing short of retardness.

We have come a long way ; to be in a school that represents the wonderful rainbow nation that this land is ,is something I do not take for granted. One day we will be free from poverty , corruption , crime , the scurge of HIV/Aids, racism, xenophobia , poor governance , debt , conformity, intellectual boundaries and other various third-world dilemmas. When the free-generation votes again in 2018, I hope an ‘X’ will not necessarily be placed next to a political party with a face similar to the voter’s nor one that promises the stars and the moon but only delivers the sky but instead, vote for the one that will fight for the underdog. I will be happy ,truly blissful , the day my people, all types of Africans are free from the struggles we face. Maybe the pigs in ‘Animal Farm’ were accurate it seems, to paraphrase them I say, “We are all equal ; but some are more equal than others. ”

[ I wrote this September last year. Funny how its still relevant. ]

#nublaccsoul

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Lend me your ear.

Contrary to popular belief communication is not just speaking , but listening as well because only then can we gain wisdom to enable us to make sound contributions in conversation. Only when we are attentive listeners can we argue our cases and dismantle the opposition’s views. Half-listening could cost you knowledge that you might need one time in your life to save your life. The happiness and general well-being of a child depends on it! We must move away from making every conversation about us and thus missing out on more intelligent discussion. New discoveries are made when there is a meaningful meeting of minds. You should show some love and care by using your ears or just Van Gough them. Speak less ; hear more ; be wise!

by PHILA DYASI #nublaccsoul

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The inside story of a teenager’s brain

Contrary to popular belief teenagers are not the same over the decades and centuries and thus our parents do not understand nor can relate to how we feel or what we do in the course of this fundamental phase of life. The typical anatomy of a teenager’s brain is off the mark,completely!

The biggest section of my brain is NOT that of thoughts of reproductive processes. I ,like my peers, am not a sex-driven animal that psychologists like to believe I am. I have been fortunate enough to be raised in an era where sexual intercourse and the results of it have been explained to me in school-by means of ‘Life Orienation’ and ‘Biology’ and at home by my mother. The onus now lies with me not to be controlled by raging hormones and end up being a statistic – another teenage parent. I realise teenage-pregnancy is an issue in this country and I realise I am not ready , financially or otherwise for a child. The media plays a role in encouraging sexual-experimenting with its perveted programmes which have an enormous influence on teenagers.

I have never quite struggled with self-image and esteem because of the sufficient love and support I have had in my upbringing. Not everyone is so fortunate. The essence of self-belief is so key that it is often overlooked. Humans are animals and like all animals they prey on the weak. It is the survival of the fittest ; elimination of the weak and the weak-willed will suffer. It is the cause of so many teenage-suicides and healthy disorders such as anorexia and obesity. To be arrogant is revolting and to shy and socially awkward isn’t good either. If life is a rope, we must not hang ourselves ; rather , strike a balance and walk into a place of happiness. Parents and teachers should show more care and love to emotionally needy beings that want to be “cool” and want to “fit in” and help them to love themselves.

At the back of my brain possibly lies all the answers to the world’s problems and I will never access this part if I am not encouraged to think for myself and to formulate well-thought-out opinions. For most of the part, the schooling system downplays intellectual variety, feeding us the foolish notion that intellect lies exclusively with the mathematicians and scientists and not with the artists and artisans. Even television brainwashes and dumbs it down to a point whereby we accept opinions or so called ‘facts’ without questioning their validality.

I am seen as an outcast if all teenagers are seen to dedicate their lives to rebellion. You can call me “goody-2-shoes” and other names but having never been to a single detention in all of my twelve years of schooling I realise I am not the ideal representative for my peers. The way I see it is that a single way of discipline cannot be effective to everyone because everyone is unique. And to create harsh means of detaining individuals won’t help if the cause is not treated.

My mind can ultimately be described as a highway during the week during rush-hour traffic – so much to do and so much happening , from sparing a minute or two to my enlightening music or an hour to sitting down and having a meal with my family and sometimes helping out with chores. I am a machine!

We are all our own people. I am not willing to be subject of stereotype by adults who believe that just because I am an eighteen-year-old I am a defective human. I speak for all teenagers when I say : “ It is time you took us seriously ; we are the future ! ”

[ Written: June 2014 ]

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Backstage

“ The more things change ; the more they remain the same. ” – Jean Baptiste Karr. Since Before-Christ humans have worshipped he who speaks the loudest amongst the masses. To these few individuals we have given praise, applause and admiration. But we have to ask ourselves how great would leaders be without followers?

Lights ; camera ; action! The star of the show steps on stage , and gives a performance worthy to be remembered. He is appreciated with a standing ovation and flowers at his feet. After the show a crowd of teenage girls awaits him for an autograph. Forgotten are those on the other side of the curtain. The script-writers, sound and light engineers, the make-up artists , the choreographers and the director of a stellar production. It is said by many media figures that backstage is where the ‘real’ money is but also where lies the most work. I ask myself, “What would Batman be without his ‘sidekick’,Robin? Next time when I watch a movie premier I’d like to see people take photos with the backstage crew, to give credit where it is due.

A person’s true character is revealed when that person is under pressure. Behind the closed doors of the dressing room backstage an actor is refined by means of make-up to enhance appearance , to cover all flaws , to look like a superstar. We are all our true selves when not in full view of people. It seems surreal when you hear that the very star looked up to is fighting drug addiction. We end up lost in the haze of our own imaginations, forgetting that we are only human and therefore flawed. We sell dreams to children that the personality they idolise is perfect.

In my couch-potato days I was always more fascinated by “behind-the-scenes” video clips than the edited piece. Reality is something people can actually relate to. I am the starlet of my own reality show that is my life. Behind the stage- curtains is my beloved mother and grandparents. Phila Dyasi is an artwork that has been moulded by the aforementioned to be who he is today- chizzled by discipline, moral instillation and fired in the furnace that is life to be stronger and better. My friends, “The Brotherhood “has developed my social skills,humour and human-interaction skills. And the sound engineers that are all my English educators since primary school for my oratory and writing skills and recent success in being placed second in a national essay competition.

Sixolile Dyasi, my distant relative once commented , “Artists forget that they need their fans more than their fans need them.” It is the populations that selects a leader so what is fundamental is the mindeset of those who “pull the strings” to the “puppet” that is the face of the show. When Comrade Nelson Mandela exclaimed, “Amandla (Power) !” , and the people responded, “Amethu ( To the people ) ! ” It showed the power of people. It is said that it takes a community to raise a child. Give honour to all those who sacrificed their lives in the good fight against the oppressor (not included in the ‘History’ textbooks.)

I was recently surprised to learn that world-star football player Cristiano Ronaldo was to buy this physiotherapists supercars because he won the best-player prize for 2013/2014. It is the work of many ordinary men that accumulates to extraordinary feats. Spare a word of praise to those that are ‘backstage’ in all sphere of life who are working to make sure that the star on stage stays bright as the sun.

[ Written: 22 January 2014 ] NuBlaccSoUl

Featured

Rock Bottom

I see myself as a ship, a cruise-liner to be specific. The sea are the factors in my life that are beyond my control. My parents are the lighthouse , the Lord , Jesus Christ , the Captain. My beloved family is the diverse unit of passengers on-board.

I’ve been to a place where I couldn’t move forward. For a while residing at the rock bottom of the sea seemed normal. Life at times places icebergs on the way that sink me ; drown me temporarily. Counsellors and therapists might call it depression , I just call it ‘the blues.’ With the hormonal imbalance inside my body these feelings are to be expected. But teenage suicides still shock us,why? I lost a former classmate and a friend’s sister because of the rock-bottom feeling when pain hits. It is a sad sight as we lay the murderer/victim to rest. As we literally place them at rock bottom. In 2004 , I lost my aunt Bongeka also as a result of suicide. Thinking about her still saddens me deeply. It feels as though treasured passengers jumped off the ship.

To lose a family member is hard enough but to lose faith is grief of a totally higher degree. We are raised in a society whereby science at times contradicts religion. Making one to believe greatly in the physical state of existence and not as much in the spiritual form. It is said that God did not promise us no hardships ,pain and challenges but rather that He would be with us through trials and tribulations.

Earlier this year a small yet significant event occurred that made me lose some faith. I had practised for hours on end. I had prayed to God that all proceedings go well and during my performance there was a powercut. For the rest of that day in the pits of the sea I asked He allowed for it to happen. But a while after,after an introspection I realised that it was a test and I failed,dismally. God never left me,never has and never will.

As bad as rock bottom might be, in the same breath it is the best place. From there,there is only one-way and that is UP! The key in life to progress is not to digress. It is easy to lose sight of your goals and focus on your failures. Anyone can do that. But is a winner who takes failures as learning curves and does not repeat them. Bill Gates started from the bottom and now he is a billionaire. I too started from the bottom. From Grade 1 -Grade 11. It has been a journey – a long one at that but one most enjoyed. In all honesty I hate school but I do appreciate it , for education is an asset that only gains value. Without education I would start from the bottom and die there.

As we grow older , and hopefully wiser we get a new right accompanied by a responsiblity. Next year a small number of my peers will be 18 years old and therefore vote in the National Elections. The power to choose the ruling party. We did not start from the bottom in terms of fighting for freedom/liberation nor did most our parents and most of us seem to take democracy lightly. There are thousands of people who are six-feet under because of fighting for liberation. It is the duty of vote to put a worthy political party in power which will uphold democratic values and not vote simply because of blind loyalty. That is the only way South African can progress and hopefully one day be a first-world country.

When you find yourself in a hole look up to the sky ; the heavens ; to God. Everyone has a bad day now and again but it is key not to be wrapped around your emotions (negative feelings particularly ) but to pick yourself up from your rock bottom and claim your place on the summit. A wise man I know used to say, “Believe. Be. Live. And you will forever live, not physically but historically! ” Sir Phila Dyasi-The Great.

[ Written 26 March 2013]

by PHILA DYASI #nublaccsoul

Featured

Let the children speak.

“Let them come to me ; do not stop them. The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” Wise words spoken by Jesus Christ to his disciples. The Son of God himself acknowledged the importance of children in society.

At the tender age of about thirteen-years old Jesus Christ had started preaching the Lord’s word. He was performing miracles. The Son of God was saving people ; physically and spiritually. It is evident that a million years before the present children were seen and heard ; considered valuable contributors in the world. Nowadays it seems that has been forgotten-completely!

I am a young, Xhosa , black boy . What that automatically means is that my opinion , my thoughts are irrelevant to my elders. But no ,I come from a more modern family whereby I am included in most decision-making processes and my word counts. Parents ( or adults in general ) tend to speak only and neglect the converse of this act-the beautiful and rare art of listening to and considering a child’s humble opinion as one would, if it were an adult’s. The youth is generally more open-minded about major issues in society than the senior members therefore offer an unbiased and almost accurate analytical view on such matters.

On an annual basis for our language classes we are expected to stand before our peers and deliver a speech on a particular topic. All this is being done in the name off ‘grooming future leaders.’ If society expects excellent public speakers and such from us in preparation for being leaders of tomorrow then it is only fair to expect to be allowed to speak our minds. Freedom of Speech is most probably the best part of the Constitution. If only society’s leaders weren’t so rigid and one-dimensional. How are we expected to be confident, assertive and have high self-esteems if we are shut down ?

On a daily basis more than one woman is raped everyday. It is usually someone the victim knows : A family friend ; a father or an uncle. In most cases when the victims are questioned as to why another adult was not told about this ; they shockingly reply that no-one was willing to lend an ear. They were not believed. If children were taught in all aspects of life to speak there would be fewer problems.

I might be a young-adult. I might be considered ‘half-a-man’ at this stage but no matter what category i might be placed under I will always be a human being ; not half. It seems to be a norm amongst adults to make all decisions for us children. At the age of sixteen years am I really a child? A dog barking outside and a child speaking to his parents about house-rules and their ammendments seems to be of equal weight. Who would break a rule when he was part of its development? If we work hand-in-hand ; junior and senior members of society sharing ideas , views on plans to prosper and move forward.

Phila Dyasi is an acitivist rapper ; it might br a hobby for now but take a few minutes to listen to this young man’s art and you will come to realise that : Teenagers are more intellectually gifted that one could have expected. A summary of current political affairs with some rhymes. A voice for thousand teens just lacking the platform to express their views.
Life is most definitely a platform but all the teenagers are found backstage. We are not seen nor heard. Our value isn’t recognised enough and in the end problems such as drug-addiction and suicide come into play. Let the children speak. You could learn a thing or two from juniors. Communication and learning are two-way streets. You speak and you listen.

“In this world the kids don’t stand a chance! A view expressed by internationally admired rapper Bobby Ray Simmons. If we do not challenge the status quo and encourage our elders to start listening then our reality will remain an infinite nightmare of silent ghosts.

– an essay by PHILA DYASI. Written 1 February 2013 #nublaccsoul

Issue #4

Riggwelter

Welcome to the fourth issue! Riggwelter keeps rolling on. This issue contains poetry, short fiction, visual art and experimental media by: David Bankson, Cath Barton, James Coffey, Lori Cramer, Stephen Daniels, Rachel Davies, Harshal Desai, Logan Ellis, Shannon Frost Greenstein, Erik Fuhrer, Elizabeth Gibson, Steve Harrison, Justin Karcher, Hailey Lamb, Sarah Little, Kirsten Luckins, Mandy Macdonald, Darla Mottram, Alan Murphy, NuBlaccSoul, Tamara L. Panici, Simon Read, Hilary Robinson, Jane R. Rodgers, Marija Smits, Sneha Subramanian Kanta, Angela Topping and Claire Walker, and is edited by Amy Kinsman.

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