Archive | January, 2018

Black Female Icons: Eartha Kitt!!!

26 Jan


In this series of honouring our Black female icons, I decided to start with Eartha Kitt. I woke up this morning humming the tune of ‘ Where is my man’. It took me back to dancing days as a teenager and we used to dance to the song in our many dance competitions and shows.

So who was this fabulous woman?
Taken from Wikipedia.

Eartha Mae Kitt was an American singer, actress, dancer, activist and comedian, known for her highly distinctive singing style and her 1953 recordings of “C’est si bon” and the enduring Christmas novelty smash “Santa Baby”, which were both US Top 10 hits. Orson Welles once called her the “most exciting woman in the world”.

Kitt was born Eartha Mae Keith on a cotton plantation near the small town of North in Orangeburg County, South Carolina on January 17, 1927. Her mother Annie Mae Keith was of Cherokee and African descent.


Kitt began her career in 1942 and appeared in the 1945 original Broadway theatre production of the musical Carib Song. In the early 1950s, she had six US Top 30 hits, including “Uska Dara” and “I Want to be Evil”. Her other notable recordings include the UK Top 10 hit “Under the Bridges of Paris” (1954), “Just an Old Fashioned Girl” (1956) and “Where Is My Man” (1983). She starred in 1967 as Catwoman, in the third and final season of the television series Batman. In 1968, her career in America suffered after she made anti-war statements at a White House luncheon, tis became known as “The White House Incident”. Kitt was asked by Lady Bird Johnson about the Vietnam War. She replied: “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot.”. During a question and answer session, Kitt stated:

The children of America are not rebelling for no reason. They are not hippies for no reason at all. We don’t have what we have on Sunset Blvd. for no reason. They are rebelling against something. There are so many things burning the people of this country, particularly mothers. They feel they are going to raise sons – and I know what it’s like, and you have children of your own, Mrs. Johnson – we raise children and send them to war.

Her remarks reportedly caused Mrs. Johnson to burst into tears and led to a derailment in Kitt’s career.
Following the incident, Kitt found herself unemployable, so she devoted her energies to performances in Europe and Asia. It is said that Kitt’s career in the United States was ended following her comments about the Vietnam War, after which she was branded “a sadistic nymphomaniac” by the CIA. Her government-led blacklisting was enshrined in a false and defamatory CIA dossier about Kitt discovered by Seymour Hersh in 1975. Hersh published an article about the dossier in The New York Times. The dossier contained comments about Kitts sex life, family history and negative opinions about her by former colleagues. Kitt’s response to the dossier was to say “I don’t understand what this is about. I think it’s disgusting.”

Ten years later, she made a successful return to Broadway in the 1978 original production of the musical Timbuktu!, for which she received the first of her two Tony Award nominations. Her second was for the 2000 original production of the musical The Wild Party.

In 1978, Kitt did the voice-over in a television commercial for the album Aja by the rock group Steely Dan. One of her more unusual roles was as Kaa in a 1994 BBC Radio adaptation of The Jungle Book. Kitt also lent her distinctive voice to Yzma in The Emperor’s New Groove (for which she won her first Annie Award) and reprised her role in Kronk’s New Groove and The Emperor’s New School, for which she won two Emmy Awards and, in 2007–08, two more Annie Awards for Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production. Kitt had voiced Vexus in My Life as a Teenage Robot.

In 1984, she returned to the music charts with a disco song titled “Where Is My Man”, the first certified gold record of her career. “Where Is My Man” reached the Top 40 on the UK Singles Chart, where it peaked at No. 36; the song became a standard in discos and dance clubs of the time and made the Top 10 on the US Billboard dance chart, where it reached No. 7. The single was followed by the album I Love Men on the Record Shack label. Kitt found new audiences in nightclubs across the UK and the United States, including a whole new generation of gay male fans, and she responded by frequently giving benefit performances in support of HIV/AIDS organisations. Her 1989 follow-up hit “Cha-Cha Heels” (featuring Bronski Beat), which was originally intended to be recorded by Divine, received a positive response from UK dance clubs and reached No. 32 in the charts in that country.


Kitt wrote three autobiographies—Thursday’s Child (1956), Alone with Me (1976) and I’m Still Here: Confessions of a Sex Kitten (1989). She also played Lady Eloise in the 1992 film Boomerang, starring Eddie Murphy. Kitt found a new generation of fans through her roles in the Disney films The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), in which she voiced the villainous Yzma, and Holes (2003). She reprised the role as Yzma in the direct-to-video sequel Kronk’s New Groove (2005), as well as the animated series The Emperor’s New School (2006–2008). Her work on the latter earned her two Daytime Emmy Awards. She posthumously won a third Emmy in 2010 for her guest performance on Wonder Pets.

Her activism:
Kitt was active in numerous social causes in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966, she established the Kittsville Youth Foundation, a chartered and non-profit organisation for underprivileged youths in the Watts area of Los Angeles. She was also involved with a group of youths in the area of Anacostia in Washington, D.C., who called themselves “Rebels with a Cause.” Kitt supported the groups’ efforts to clean up streets and establish recreation areas in an effort to keep them out of trouble by testifying with them before the House General Subcommittee on Education of the Committee on Education and Labor. In her testimony, in May 1967, Kitt stated that the Rebels’ “achievements and accomplishments should certainly make the adult ‘do-gooders’ realise that these young men and women have performed in 1 short year – with limited finances – that which was not achieved by the same people who might object to turning over some of the duties of planning, rehabilitation, and prevention of juvenile delinquents and juvenile delinquency to those who understand it and are living it”. She added that “the Rebels could act as a model for all urban areas throughout the United States with similar problems”. “Rebels with a Cause” subsequently received the needed funding. Kitt was also a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Like many politically active public figures of her time, Kitt was under surveillance by the CIA, beginning in 1956. After the New York Times discovered the CIA file on Kitt in 1975, she granted the paper permission to print portions of the report, stating: “I have nothing to be afraid of and I have nothing to hide.”

Kitt later became a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and publicly supported same-sex marriage, which she considered a civil right. She had been quoted as saying: “I support it gay marriage because we’re asking for the same thing. If I have a partner and something happens to me, I want that partner to enjoy the benefits of what we have reaped together. It’s a civil-rights thing, isn’t it?” Kitt famously appeared at many LGBT fundraisers, including a mega event in Baltimore, Maryland, with George Burns and Jimmy James. Scott Sherman, an agent at Atlantic Entertainment Group, stated: “Eartha Kitt is fantastic… appears at so many LGBT events in support of civil rights.” In a 1992 interview with Dr. Anthony Clare, Kitt spoke about her gay following, saying:We’re all rejected people, we know what it is to be refused, we know what it is to be oppressed, depressed, and then, accused, and I am very much cognisant of that feeling. Nothing in the world is more painful than rejection. I am a rejected, oppressed person, and so I understand them, as best as I can, even though I am a heterosexual.

Kitt died from colon cancer on Christmas Day 2008, at her home in Weston, Connecticut.


Reclaiming our villages!

12 Jan


I come from a village called Phokeng. Phokeng is situated in the North West province and approximately 30 kilometres from the main town, Rustenburg. Unfortunately I was not brought up in the region as I was taken by my mother to Johannesburg at an early age, three months to be exact. Growing up I had limited access to my home and in my late thirties I made the brave move to pack up my city life and move home to work on my relationship with my parents and get to know my heritage. Through this journey of self discovery, I unravelled alarming facts about the region and the surrounding villages.

Phokeng and the surrounding areas boasts beautiful landscapes of rolling hills, set against the platinum mines. With breath taking sunsets and high temperatures, life there still follows along the village way, the sense of ubuntu shines bright as each family knows who everyone is and who lives where. With that when a child is seeing walking around the streets or at the shops or tavern, everyone know whether or not they are working, successful , have an extended family etc. During my time there, I noticed that the level of unemployment amongst youth is very high, I noticed the increase of taverns in the area.

Two years back when I was out of the country, my Rakgadi, my aunty from fathers side was attacked in her home, she was in her eighties at the time. For some reason I was not made aware of the attack and only learnt of it upon my return back to SA, which was a few months after the attack. By that time, time had lapsed. According to reports, that had found the perpetrator and had let him go. There was speculation that he was a youth from the area and was on Nyope.
What is Nyope? It is a home-made drug that has been ravaging the youths of South Africa especially in the crowded townships in the country, but what is whoonga, or nyaope as it is commonly known in the streets? Whoonga is a new and deadly drug which is slowly but surely destroying young South Africans in the townships and dusty rural villages. This drug was first reported in Kwazulu Natal, Durban to be specific and has since spiraled across the country with Gauteng now the hardest hit.
Whoonga (Nyaope), is a concoction of many substances that includes but are not limited to rat poison, battery acid, soap powder and even HIV/Aids medication anti-retroviral drugs. Whoonga is distributed as a very fine white powder which the users usually mix with marijuana or tobacco. When the drug is smoked, it is said to have an immediate impact on the taker and whoonga is said to be one of the most lethal drugs in the world. Source:

Regarding the attack, I tried to get the case back on the roll but then Rakgadi passed away. I believe from the trauma that she suffered from the attack.
Other attacks and crimes have been reported within the villages and created a heightened sense of fear amongst our mothers and grand mothers of the area.
For example my mother creates a make shift security system at home. All the outside doors have security gates, but before sleeping my mum creates a make shift obstacle course by placing a chair against the door, with a metal cup balancing on the chair. When I questioned her on her method, she said it was to alert her should somebody break through the security door. A few years back, this was not the case.

So why are the youth committing crimes? They need money to feed their habits. Where do they get their drugs from? This then leads me to the outbreak that has occurred in the Rustenburg town.

On Wednesday 10 January 2018, violent eruptions resulted in the torching of several buildings, in Rustenburg town, alleged to be brothels and drug dens.
Taken from
The Mayor of Rustenburg Mpho Khunou says one of the reasons why drug trafficking and prostitution is still so rife in the municipality is because repeat offenders tend to be released on bail every time.
The mayor says the city is also aware of the involvement of some police officers in local crime syndicates.
Khunou says while this is true, not all police officers are guilty.

Standing outside one of the burned down buildings in Rustenburg, Khunou says efforts are being made to root out known brothels.
“We want to reiterate that as the city, we don’t believe that all police officers are part of this. There are of course some rotten apples.”
Khunou says the focus has been on drug trafficking and not so much the idea that it’s foreign nationals running the illegal dealings.
“Indeed some of the houses where the activities are taking place belong to the South Africans, there are South Africans who are part of this. So we must not think that drug trafficking is only done by foreign nationals.”
He says the anger displayed by the community is understood but highlights support by government is being given.

One of the other issues within the villages and province is the high rate of hate crimes and attacks on the LGBTQI communities. Last week I heard the devastating news of somebody whom I had the honour of knowing, Kagiso Ishmael Maema. Kagiso was a 25-year-old transgender woman from Seraleng in Rustenburg, was discovered on Saturday, January 6.
Taken from

Maema, who preferred to be called Ousi Kagiso, is believed to have left home on Friday evening between 8.30 and 9.00 PM. She was last seen in the company of an unknown man at Eddy’s Tavern.
The two ordered drinks in the tavern and then went out to buy ‘bunny chows’ to eat. Maema’s dumped half-naked body was found in a stream the next day by a herdsman.
She was partially covered with plastic and had wounds on her head and arm, which appeared to have been caused by an axe. It is also suspected that she was strangled.
“Kagiso’s mother is not well. She loved her child,” Tsotetsi told Mambaonline. The unexpected death will have both a deep emotional and material impact on her family.

“Kagiso was an IT student who finished her studies and who was looking for a job,” said Tsotetsi. “The mother is not working and she expected Kagiso to assist the family [as a breadwinner].”

The killing is the third incident in the last few weeks involving members of the LGBTI community, and the second in the North West province.
Married lesbian couple Anisha (30) and Joey van Niekerk (32) were reportedly tortured, raped, murdered and set alight, allegedly by seven people in Mooinooi, near Rustenburg.
On the 1st of January, 23-year-old Noxolo Mabona was stabbed to death during an allegedly homophobic altercation in Strand, outside of Cape Town.
“There is a pattern of murder of LGBTI people around the country,” said Tsotetsi. “We are being targeted. This is very worrying for the LGBTI community and activists.”
A murder case has been opened with the Boitekong Police Station. There have as yet been no arrests.

So I plead that we all try and assist where necessary as it is evident that we need to reclaim our villages for our heritage , the communities living there and especially for our mothers and grandmothers who are living in fear.

If the police are not doing their jobs, raise the alarms, put it on social media, let it be heard. These senseless killings and pain needs to come to an end.

It is time to reclaim our villages.

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