When Black Stars Fade

Something About Bra Don Mkhwanazi

NB. This unfinished essay was written around the year 2013 as just a personal reflection on the efficacy of African business leaders and African intellectuals. How have South Africa’s most famous business leaders helped to transform the lives of their communities was just one of the questions I had in mind. The person I am writing about has just recently passed away on 2 July 2016, reportedly while attending a party at one of Durban’s affluent suburbs.

I have just returned from attending my second Black Management Forum meeting. During this particular evening the guest speaker was none other but the audaciously inspirational and pioneering business maverick known as Don Mkhwanazi. This former business troubadour and former president/chairperson of the BMF is no stranger to controversy and one can easily tell why.

He is as opinionated as he is sharp, quick witted and immaculately wise and experienced in all the known spheres of South Africa’s Micro and Macro-Economic endeavour. Some even go as far as calling him one of the founding fathers of Black Economic Empowerment; and this was quite clear from this evening’s presentation. With exceptional clarity of mind and wisdom that can only result from experience, Bra Don as our Programme Director would casually refer to him is a seasoned elder who was one of the economic advisors of the ruling African National Congress during their earlier economic policy development stages – between 1990 until 1995.

Mkhwanazi’s reputation speaks for itself (add qualifications + achievements) but it was tonight’s speech and the manner in which he answered questions afterwards that truly won me over. While it is clear that this is a guy who has seen it all regarding business and leadership in Southern Africa, it is inspiring to actually hear a person in his position high-lighting both the positive and the negative aspects of our country’s economic development trajectory. It was rather refreshing compared to the rather tiresome diatribes that one gets from politicians and business leaders from all sides of the political divides.

Mkhwanazi spoke both like a mentor driven by passion for the mentee but also as someone who has a deep seated interest for the really transformative Black Economic Empowerment. He was ted by the way many black people have used the BBBEE codes for mere personal enrichment and fronting for white owned companies.

Perhaps he is always this relentlessly calculating and charismatic whenever he speaks to young-adults, but for myself, I have to say that everything he articulated was exactly the type of development talk that my comrades and I are always engaged in. We are all striving in our various capacities to elevate our personal and social condition to that of dignified citizens, hoping to realise what has been called an African Renaissance.

One of the main avenues that this is being required is in the field of Leadership. Leadership appears in virtually every subject that any conscious and concerned modern personality may be engaged in. Not only does the question of leadership rear its head everywhere, it has become like the proverbial white elephant in the room in all political discussions.

I am now listening to a rapper called Common, saying “If you play your cards right, everything’s gonna be alright/ I was dealt a band hand but I played the right card.”

Now as the name, suggests, the Black Management Forum is a forum which deals solely with the improvement of Black managements capacity to lead. This is a race which is not for the swift neither is it for the faint hearted …


Idea-ology: Musings on Belief Systems

The Liberator Magazine

This article first appeared in The Narrative Issue.

Written by: Elizabeth Teare

Ideology. From Greek idea, a form or pattern. From Greek logos, discourse or compilation.

Merriam Webster defines ideology as a “visionary theorizing; a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture”. Slavoj Zizek, author of TheSublime Object of Ideology, associates ideologies with metanarratives, grand stories that mark societies.

Though they might originally have economic, political, societal or religious groundings, ideologies attempt to explain all aspects of human life. In forming ideologies, we look into our past—as feminism does when criticizing the patriarchy—in order to make sense of the present. The danger then lies when we fantasize the future, as Trump has done while claiming to “Make America Great Again.” Zizek comments on such ideologies, noting it “is not that bad people do bad things — they always do. It’s that…

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For a Moment

The Liberator Magazine

This piece was selected as a finalist for our Nonfiction Writing Competition, Spring 2016.

Written by: Sarah Chen (Po-Yun Chen) 

For a Moment

It was after almost an entire week of holding my breath every time I stepped into that classroom, after I had convinced myself that my teacher was only kidding, of course she was, who would actually seriously suggest something that had nothing to do with the curriculum and that we probably didn’t have time for and that—

So,” Mrs. Smith said, her hand on a stack of paper. “We have some time left, and Sarah wrote a short story. I thought it would be fun to read it as a class.”

Dear God, I thought, I must be a masochist. There was no other explanation for ever wanting to be in this situation, all eyes on me in curiosity or skepticism or whatever it was…

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The Black Space – Our Spaces

Where do we go as Black People in order to find spaces that are conducive to our Spiritual, Socio-Economic and Cultural Growth?

The institutions that we presently have are not cutting it. There is no church, temple or mosque; bar, tavern or gym; social club or jazz club ( except perhaps for the Afrikan Freedom Station) in Jozi, which caters for the wretched souls of black folks.

In the urban areas, almost all spaces are owned by white people. All spaces are either commercial entities with obvious profit focus. The Non Governmental and Social/Cultural spaces also have their specific mandates and visions which do not always serve the holistic Cultural vision of Revolutionary youth, artistic innovators or alternative creative workers.

One of most enabling spaces in the EThekwini/Durban City is the BAT Centre. Since the later 90’s and through the early 2000s this Community Arts Centre has contributed to the honing of many talents.

There are so many performance artists, visual artists, poets, writers, street-artists and even activists from various fields who have participated and continue to do so in this space.

Perhaps it is presumptuous to even assume that certain people require more spaces such as this one. It is possible that any artist worth the name can thrive and work her or his craft in relative obscurity and then simply find expression and audience in the already established galleries, stages, walls and social media platforms which are available.

But the Revolutionary, the Black radical revolutionary in particular whose conscience and mind is fed by the unfettered Love of people, by the ideas of seeing changes in the social structure, where does she or he find the Books, the films, the kindred souls and the music and art that can nourish their body, mind and soul?

Shall we not strive to turn our homes, workplaces, public spaces and social mediums into such spaces?

If this happens, how will we achieve the long hoped for ideal of Black Consciousness mass mobilization, the Pan Afrikanist ideal of Afrikan unity that can overturn the world as we know it and usher in the Social Ma’at ( Peace, Justice, Rightness) that so many have striven for?

I have had the good fortune of being in many such Black spaces. Some were not necessarily exclusively black, but there was an abundant FLOW of Black Music, Arts, rhetoric and wine, herbs and good food. Yet people ‘grow up’, move on and while some graduate in their various pursuits in life, others transition to the Ancestral dimension.

When was younger I used to retreat from the bustling city into a house called …and then there was the Writers Corner at the basement/roof of the BAT Centre’s art studio. Around the year 2007, Papy Kaluw, an eclectic and eccentric fashion designer and I started a brand-house called Urban Zulu (inspired by the Life and music of Busi MhlongoAlthough it was a commercial entity dealing in clothes, accessories, books, music and occasional performances, Urban Zulu became one of the hang-suites or go to spots for Creatives and even the outcasts in Durban. Later the our store started attracting the wrong kind of attention and was forced to shutdown. It lasted for only 2 years but the brand has taken a new form and continues very successfully in various parts of Johannesburg.

Yet the idea of such spaces which are a type of retreat from over-determining Whiteness and materialism,lives on. We still seek for spaces which are definitively Afro-Futurist, Sankofasist and Afrika-logical. These are spaces where we can debate and organise business-wise and also spirit-wise. Where victims of psychological, social and systematic abuse can find Peace of Mind, Peace of Bread and a Way out of the rat-race, but most of all, a place where we can collectively plan and execute the radical Transformation of the present systems. It obviously all begins with the MINDS.

The Kilombo Village idea instigated by former Pastor Xola Sikosana is one such space. But more about that later. But you can read a bit about the Way of Life Church/Kilombo Village here: The Black Space – Our Spaces





Quotable 2


Create create

create in mind create in muscle create

in nerve

create in man create in the masses


create with dry eyes

create create

over the profanation of the forest

over the brazen fortress of the whip

create over the perfume of sawn trunks


create with dry eyes

create create

bursts of laughter over the derision of the planter’s boots

strength in the splintering of battered-

in doors

firmness in the red blood of insecurity

create with dry eyes

create create

stars over the warrior’s


peace over children’s weeping

peace over sweat over the tears of con

tract labour

peace over hatred


create peace with dry eyes

create create

create freedom in the slave stars

manacles of love on the paganised paths

of love

festive sounds over swinging bodies on

the stimulated gallows


create love with dry eyes.

– Agostino Neto, the quintessential example of the poet as a revolutionary

Skopje’s ‘Colourful Revolution’: Fighting Tyranny with Street Art — Discover

Travel blogger Darmon Richter chronicles the Colourful Revolution, aka “the ridiculously photogenic revolution happening in Macedonia right this minute.”

via Skopje’s ‘Colourful Revolution’: Fighting Tyranny with Street Art — Discover


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