The ICC and Africa: a blurred relationship?


On 26 October 2016, Gambia became the third African country to announce its intention to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC). The decision came shortly after both Burundi and South Africa expressed similar intentions, claiming as several other African countries have, that the ICC is biased and used as a tool against African nations and their leaders. On 22 February, a full bench of the North Gauteng High Court found South Africa’s decision to withdraw, invalid and unconstitutional. It ordered the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, and the President, to revoke the notice of withdrawal sent to the UN Secretary-General.

While the decision of some African countries to withdraw from the ICC has been criticised, in an article in The Guardian titled “African revolt threatens international court’s legitimacy”, Simon Allison expressed the concern that the ICC may lose credibility if states continue to leave the court.

Read more: The ICC and Africa: a blurred relationship?

Eating Halaal at UP


UP’s Hatfield Campus has a range of restaurants including Tribeca, Coffee Buzz, and Haloa that offer a variety of food choices for students. The dining hall is the only place that allows students to use their student cards to pay for their meals. It provides food that is suitable for most students, but does not cater for Muslim students. This problem was brought to light by president of the UP Muslim Students Association, Saaif Suliman. Suliman said that many students used to get Halaal food from the South Campus, however, “with the demolition of the bridge [connecting Main Campus to South Campus], it makes it next to impossible for Muslim students to access the Halaal food outlet on South [Campus].” This has proven to be an inconvenience as travelling to Halaal food outlets in the Hatfield or Brooklyn area can waste time.

Read more: Eating Halaal at UP

The Wound: Xhosa initiation in a modern world


The release of John Trengove’s film The Wound has sparked controversy, as it centres on the secretive Xhosa rites of passage and the practice of traditional male circumcision. The highly contested South African film tells the story of a homosexual African man who returns to the rural Eastern Cape to be a mentor or a khaukatha to new Xhosa initiates. The film, which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, brings to light the practices of ulwaluko and the concept of African masculinity.

The Xhosa ritual of circumcision is highly controversial due to the statistics detailing its medical risks. The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) conducted an intervention study in the Libode district in the Eastern Cape during the period of 2009–2013. They found that 453 circumcision initiates died during the period of June 2006 to December 2013 and 214 initiates suffered penile amputations in the Eastern Cape region. The HSRC also stated that dehydration, sepsis, and gangrene play a leading role in the cause of deaths among initiates.

Read more: The Wound: Xhosa initiation in a modern world

Did you just assume my gender?


Gender is a 2017 buzz-word. It is a subject that is essential, but often misunderstood. In National Geographic’s series, The Gender Revolution, American activist, author, and comedian Sam Killermann, breaks gender down into three basic categories: gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex. Killerman defines gender identity as “how you see yourself”, gender expression as the “dif ferent ways we present gender through our actions, dress and demeanour”, and biological sex as the “physical characteristics that make up ou r body”. Mpho Motiang, counsellor at the Centre for Sexuality, Aids and Gender (CSA&G) at UP, echoed Killermann’s

 definition of gender when he said that he “identif[ies] gender as how you feel and how you express yourself within your everyday interaction within the world and what the world gets to receive of that.”

Many believe that gender equals biological sex, therefore, if a person has XY chromosomes then their gender is male. However, while a person may have XY chromosomes, they may still feel that they identify better as a female. Motiang explains that these conservative ideologies surrounding gender exist because gender is a social construct: “There’s so many ways to express it [gender], yet we become so used to a binary system where it is man on one side and woman on another side. It is a lot more complicated than that.” Motiang describes gender as “fluid” since it cannot be broken down into two simple categories of male and female.

Read more: Did you just assume my gender?

Motor Neuron Disease: the facts

The death of South African Rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen has shone a new light on the reality of living with motor neuron disease (MND).

MND is a name used for a a variety of diseases that cause a person’s nerve cells to degenerate and eventually die. These nerve cells control muscle functions which enable us to breathe, swallow and walk. Therefore, patients who suffer from MND often experience muscle weakness and eventually muscle wasting. According to Professor Peet Du Toit, a professor of Neuroscience and Physiology and Gerhart Kalmeier, a Master’s student in Physiology, “It is not yet clear what causes motor neurons to stop functioning properly. We know that about 5% of cases have a family history of related conditions, where faulty genes have been identified to contribute largely to the development of the disease.” Around 384 new cases of MND are reported every year.

Read more: Motor Neuron Disease: the facts

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