Walls: Useful for some, divisive for others?

While some historical walls such as the Berlin Wall, an enduring symbol of the Cold War and built to stem mass migration into West Berlin, have been taken down, more walls still exist, or are in the early stages of being built. This includes, just to mention a few, the Peace wall, a barrier in Northern Ireland that aims since 1969 to curb violence between the Catholic and nationals in Belfast and Derry, and related places like the Mexico-United States barrier, preventing illegal crossing from Mexico into the United States of America (USA) and vice-versa, where new US-president Donald Trump aims to build a huge wall in the near future.

Visible Walls
Walls, in a literal meaning of the word are associated to continuous vertical bricks or stones with which its structure encloses an area of land, communicate matters of protection and privacy. They also can communicate politically to matters like societal stratification, segregation and conflicts. These are then linked to political walls and are influencing actions of governing policies and strategies, directly or indirectly impacting those being governed.

Invisible Walls
Despite these existing case studies denoting visible walls, in the current contemporary time walls are by far invisible. These are intangible walls embedded in societies and act as physical walls. They are obstacles that people experience and to a larger extend date back or are impacted by history, requiring holistic approaches to tackle them. These invisible walls are controversies like social injustices, prejudices, poverty, maladministration, discrimination and racism. I define “invisible walls” as uncertainties or difficulties that people face in different places which are unjust.

Questions / Fragen: Which walls do you know?/ Welche Mauern kennen Sie? and: Why is it necessary to still have the Berlin Wall as a memorial? / Warum ist es immer noch notwendig, die Berliner Mauer als Denkmal zu erhalten?

Walls in the South Africa

After 23 Years of Democracy
Born in 1991, I am a generation experiencing the aftermath of South Africa’s turbulent history, now 23 years after the end of Apartheid. Like many young South Africa’s, there are many societal problems that fail being addressed, affecting many of us. Firstly, the Apartheid regime, a system of institutional racial segregation and discrimination between 1948 and 1991 was a wall. Although not a physical one, this system made lives of black South Africans in the bottom line. That is, not being in favour of these people in daily interactions and engagements. Presently, as an invisible wall, the apartheid history communicates the stains left in black South African communities and lives, affecting the present generation and likely to affect the next coming one. My ethnographic analysis is that, the invisible matters [walls] yet visible when observing cultures, customs, habits and mutual differences are matters of an unrepresentative economy, gaps of equality, and persisting poverty.


Restorative, violent, sad and uplifting: Kliptown, an old district in Soweto and presently a slum were many live in poverty. Photo taken in 2014.

My Experience back Home
I grew up in Soweto (Southern Western Townships) in Johannesburg. This is a community which prides itself with the historical victory that took place but, where poverty is very visible. Although afforded with basic needs such as water, electricity, state provided healthcare and education; many citizens are facing social instabilities. My own personal experiences includes living with an employed mother of four, going beyond all odds to be admitted to purse my university studies and seeing majority voices still not heard. Invisible walls in the South African context which play huge roles in impacting lives of people include prejudices, inequality and poverty.

Inequality in South Africa, as an invisible wall manifests through socio-economic differences caused by race. Black South Africans are subject to not being part of shared wealth. For instances, the unequal income distribution, where the majority earn less, are striking reasons poverty will be long battle to win.

South Africa has built a set of liberties founded in it’s Constitution with sets of rights and duties for its citizens, also defining the structure of the government. Due to corruption and self interests, people are subject to prejudices. A relevant example of ongoing prejudices is when Penny Sparrow, a real estate agent called black South Africans “monkeys” after photos of New Year´s celebration on public beaches were published. This suggests that people in various societies still hold unfair opinions, which create continuous  assumptions that people of different races can still not be the same or are simply different. More cases such as homophobia and health prejudices such as HIV or AIDS are gradually there.

Linked to socio-economic instabilities, prejudices, discrimination, and social injustices, poverty is an invisible wall continuing to limit and sideline black South Africans from liberating themselves to opportunities such as quality education, health services and general resources. These factors communicate the unchanged state of living in South Africa and more importantly, that the voices of majority of people are still unheard.

Walls in Germany

Questions / Fragen: Who profits from building walls? / Wer profitiert davon, Mauern zu bauen? and: What are the positive aspects of walls? / Was sind die positiven Aspeke von Mauern? 

The Berlin Wall
Currently, I am living in Potsdam, Germany to do a one year federal voluntary service, volunteering at a Waldorf Kindergarten in Berlin. Before I left Johannesburg in September 2016, I have been learning German for 18 while working in education oriented non-governmental organisations as a primary school tutor, alongside pursuing both journalism and activism projects.

New Walls
Even though the Berlin Wall came down 28 years ago, remains of it can still be visited – there is for example the East Side Gallery, but also the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer. These remains of the physical wall, which actually had been around 160 km long, function today as reminders of the atrocities of history. They speak the past, wall as an outcome/product of opposing world views/political convictions (Soviet Union and GDR with communism on the one side, and French, British and US-American alliterate with capitalistic convictions on the other side) and the Cold War, the Soviet Union and GDR aiming to isolate themselves. Today the remains of the Berlin Wall are used as a historical symbol for tourists and its citizens to show how a whole country, a city, families and friends had been divided, creating an emphasis of a society being different.

Question / Frage: Why do people build walls? / Warum bauen Menschen Mauern? 

Even though the wall came down and even though there are reminders in a form of monuments, again walls are being built. But not only visible, physical walls are being build on the border of the European Union – but also countries within the EU isolating themselves from the rest of the union – also invisible walls are emerging, especially in the broader scheme of things, with communities confronted with day-to-day challenges, to what extend can walls be perceived as threatening or useful when social issues suggest that there are more invisible walls than physical walls?

Refugees: Us and Them
During 2015 Germany welcomed an approximated 1 million immigrants, accommodating above 400 000 Syrian refugees escaping from grave disaster, in dire need of humanitarian assistance. This was a gesture of sympathy. Following conflicting views about long term disadvantages of accommodating refugees or not to, these discussions created walls in the heads of some people. Citizens either argued to the interest or need support of not, drawing conclusions of intending to either sideline these masses and always categorising arguments as “us” and “them”. It is within these arguments that historical elements reflecting the Berlin Wall are still present in society and the minds of people. For instance, invisible walls also in minds of people led to the rise of new right-wing parties like Altenative für Deutschland (AfD). Influenced by the past, arguments in the German society and thoughts people generally have communicate historic fears such as losing their economic power, protecting their interests; property, jobs, and often being threatened the invasion of new inhabitants.

My Experience in Germany
In the last 5 months of my stay, I have been confronted with uninformed assumptions about Africa from people. At least, in a community where people have unlimited resources such the internet, one can take an advantage to develop balanced perceptions. Thoughts of people, still perceiving Africa in less open minded ways mainly highlights the unchanging mentalities of Africa as less changing and improving and associated to inferior. Without disputing arguments of Africa as a continent in need of help and and generally termed as poor, many people create walls of seeing blackness as taboo, living in intolerance, discriminating and segregating stratifying African people to certain levels.

Realities about Walls
Related to the African Diaspora, Germany and South Africa have created similar invisible walls in their respective contexts. For instance, the xenophobic attacks, which caused a number of deaths and physical war zones in South Africa against other African natives was driven by threats of immigrants as they argue, taking their employment, taking over and changing communities. While in Germany these arguments have also been in place, showing fears in people’s views and ideas, these are contemporary walls communicating the past and reinventing similar voices to when the Berlin Wall operated.

Realities about walls are not limited only to these arguments, but are often built on arguments of security, privacy and protection, property and laws. Both visible and invisible walls are capable of either taking others in or others out, suppressing freedoms of thought, expression, dreams and travelling, for example. At first sight, walls might seem to be  benefititng and useful for at least one of the involved parties. But looking more closely at the issue, it becomes clear that walls actually do not serve anyone.




I hope to leave my footprint. I am all about impacting the lives of others. It takes concerted efforts, making others the first priority, with yourself as the least of those priorities.

I dedicate my time to a youth club in Soweto called Kliptown Youth Program (KYP). This goes out to all the kids at KYP who I also wish growth and a solid educational foundation for better futures.

With love,




Large Man Looking At Co-Worker With A Magnifying Glass

Large Man Looking At Co-Worker With A Magnifying Glass — Image by © Images.com/Corbis

No communication is 100 percent secure. But, activists and journalists can be their own watchdogs when it comes to protecting their privacy online. For the past two weeks I have sought to look into tools which can be used to protect digital surveillance.

Activists in South Africa have raised concerns that state intelligence structures may be monitoring their activities. This is what commentator Jane Duncan terms as the ‘rise of the securocrats’, where South Africa’s security cluster is becoming increasingly powerful, secretive, and involved in political affairs of the country. Secrocrats is also defined as a military or police officer who holds an influential position in the government; an advocate of the close involvement of military and police officers in government.

While they have established instances that this could be happening in the country, civil society is playing a significant role to challenge the government on this matter.

Thanks to Right2Know  for challenging the state on calling for a new Inspector General for Intelligence (IGI) – the public protector of the spies – to be appointed urgently. R2K is a democratic activist driven organization, also known as a umbrella social movement under which are non-governmental organizations addressing issues that affect citizens such as social justice, electricity, labour issues, human rights, etc. Its mandate is to defend and advance the free flow of information necessary to meet people’s social, economic, political and ecological needs.

What does ‘monitoring’ mean?

According to Right2Know monitoring also used interchangeably as ‘surveillance and intelligence gathering’ is when state bodies are collecting information on the activities of an organization or individuals. There are several kinds of surveillance such as monitoring public websites such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook; news media; attending public meetings openly or posing as a member of the public during gatherings, people’s phone calls, electronic mails or Internet usage-sometimes called signals interception or “bugging”.

Nonetheless the list is endless but electronic surveillance is becoming more a popular as many people are establishing communication online more than in person. Electronic surveillance is hard to trance however, it is vital for journalists and activists to have mechanisms to protect their communication.

I have established seven user-friendly applications that can be used to build more private platforms online. These tools are Signal, TextSecure, RedPhone, MiniLock, Meet.Jit.si, Mailvelope and SpiderOak.


Signal  is a free and open source app that replaces your regular Short Messaging Service (SMS) messenger app, allowing you to send and receive SMS messages as normal, except that when texting other Signal users in your contact list, all messages are automatically encrypted. What does this mean? Encryption and decrypting content requires a complex password- known as a key-for authentication. Very often, this key is held by the company providing services such as email or  web hosting, so they have full access to your data. Governments can compel the company to hand over your information, or try to back into its servers to get direct access.

When texting non-Signal users you are given the option to invite them to Signal, or can simply send a message as normal via (unencrypted) SMS. Note that in the past TextSecure allowed users to send encrypted messages over SMS (as opposed to the internet), but this feature was removed from TextSecure due to lack of interest, and is not present in Signal.) Signal is works like TextSecure and RedPhone as Open Whisper Systems released Signal app for iOS that combines the functionality of TextSecure and RedPhone, making it a compatible app for iPhones.

This means that existing Android users will find TextSecure app automatically updated to Signal, while RedPhone users are advised to uninstall the app (and install Signal instead, if you do not already have it installed).

TextSecure and RedPhone

TextSecure and RedPhone are Android apps developed by security outfit Open Whisper Systems. They provide secure encrypted text chat and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) voice call capabilities respectively. VoIP (voice over IP) is an IP telephony term for a set of facilities used to manage the delivery of voice information over the Internet.It involves sending voice information in digital form in discrete packets rather than by using the traditional circuit-committed protocols of the public switched telephone network. These two tools are regarded among others as the best (and arguably the best) options available for keeping your conversations private on Android.

TextSecure is easy-to-use. It looks like WhatsApp but encrypts texts, pictures, videos and audio. It is an open-source and provides end-to-end encryption. Open source can be defined as the code used to write computer software, usually privately-owned, meaning that whoever developed it has sole access to it. Open-source code is available for anyone to see and analyse. While it might seem counter-intuitive, this is widely considered to be the best way to make software secure. It helps ensure it does not do anything nasty, like providing a ‘back door’ for intelligence agencies, and to be discovered and patched up.

End-to-end encryption means only you know the key, and your communications stay private. To the company transmitting your messages, or anybody trying to intercept them, they will look like a long string of random numbers and letters. Third parties can know who you communicated with, but they cannot see your messages.

RedPhone encrypts all voice calls end-to-end over the internet, so you only pay for the Wi-Fi or data. It is free and open source.


MiniLock is a free and open source, web plug-in that lets users encrypt and share files- including videos, email attachments and photos. You upload and send your file using a unique ID, so it can be downloaded by the person you share it with. miniLock uses your email and secret passphrase to generate a miniLock (identity) ID. miniLock IDs are small and easy to share online.  Anyone can use your ID to encrypt files to you, and you can encrypt files to friends using their miniLock IDs. MiniLock uses modern cryptographic primitives to accomplish this securely.


Meet.Jit.si helps secure video calls and instant messaging. It secures voice and video calls, video conferences, instant messages and file transfers. It runs directly in your browser, encrypting calls and chats end-to-end. For a desktop version, try Jitsi for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Android. It is free and open-source (reference).


This is a web browser add-on online privacy tool, providing end-to-end email encryption. Mailvelope  can be configured for almost any web-based email provider, including Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook. It is free and open-source.


SpiderOak was SpiderOak was founded by Ethan Oberman and Alan Fairless as a zero knowledge private backup program. In 2013, SpiderOak began developing Crypton, “a JavaScript framework for building applications where the server doesn’t know the contents it’s storing on behalf of users”.

SpiderOak is a US based cloud sharing and storage tool. Like Meet.Jit.si, SpiderOak is also accessible through an app for Windows, Mac and Linux computer platforms, and Android, N900 Maemo and iOS mobile platforms. Unfortunately it is not an open-source but, some components of it are. But, it assists users to back-up files, sync between devices and share files privately. It fully encrypts your data end-to-end, so even the company cannot see your documents. SpiderOak costs US $12 a month (approximately R150- R200).  In a July 2014 interview, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden recommended SpiderOak over Dropbox, citing its better protection against government surveillance.

As intelligent agencies intrude on people’s information and communication, especially online, it is worth noting that it is hard to detect electronic surveillance. But, using available applications to protect your privacy online is better than no protection at all.

MY BUCKET LIST (My list in a bucket)

Bucket list

Where have I been all this time, considering that I have not really thought about making a bucket list?

Well, I have been inspired by so much to start creating one. Perhaps to mention, my friends: Kimon, Paul, Florian and Thomas, who are also my German teachers are doing a lot more to inspire me, if not to influence me.

We have been talking about travel for the last few weeks and great places and a lot of possibilities when it comes to exploring as young people. Who does not really want to play a little at their early 20’s?  I want to. Maybe a little bit of fun can do.

Our conversations are shifting to many things at once and, I have been doing a lot of thinking. I guess I am up for a challenge and I have a few in mind.

First things first, I love travelling, learning, exploring and being adventurous. A little bit of elevation really makes me feel good.

Here is  my initial first bucket list:

And oh! just for clarity purposes, a bucket list, that is according to google, is a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.

  1. Probably and most probably, the first achievement I would like to accomplish and  to put into my bucket list is to graduate as a Doctoral student one day. PhD
  2. Travel has got to make it in my list. I would like to travel to the the following cities: Tokyo, Lagos, Beijing, Toronto, Harare, New York, London, Berlin, Amsterdam and  Paris; at least in a few coming years of my life. travel
  3. My mind is aligned to writing. I do not only want to write. I want to be a great writer. And, it takes patience, passion and hard work to nurture this craft. I do a lot of writing  in my mind but that has to change because I would like to write a book one day and this I add to my bucket list. books
  4. I am already living my life but I want to live it to the fullest because life is worth living. But how would I achieve this? I roger doing all the thinks I love like skating, hahaha, teaching subjects I love like English and Mathematics, serving my community through giving back and making a good impact in so many people’s lives; writing until my ink runs out and being the best I can be! life
  5. The list is endless. I think its important not to spoil it and not to break my bucket.

Next think you know, I will be making my “anti-bucket” list inspired by a friend of mine by the name of Tin on My Scribbled Journey. Many thanks for such funny thoughts and great blogging ideas. 🙂







So think as if your every thought were to be etched in fire upon the sky for all and everything to see, for so, in truth, it is. –Book of Mirdad.



Thanks to John Kehoe for making me realise the ability the brain has in his book titled MIND POWER into the 21st century.

The discovery was amazing.

I may not know all the greatest theories in the world but, what I know for sure is that: A single unaided thought hasn’t much power, through repetition the thought can become concentrated and directed, and its force can be magnified many times. The more the thought is repeated the more the energy and power it generates, and the more readily it is able to manifest itself.

You probably are wondering how it applies in reality. Kehoe points out an illustration: “picture magnifying glass through which the sun’s rays pass. If the magnifying glass is moved about from spot to spot, the power of sun’s rays is diffused and not apparent. If, however, the magnifying glass is held still and focused correctly at the proper height, those same rays become concentrated, and that diffused light suddenly becomes a powerful force enough to ignite a fire”.

So it is with our thoughts.

Pay attention to your thoughts and direct them accordingly. Your life is entirely of your own making, so look at how you are living.

You claim you want financial abundance, yet you are constantly bemoaning your lack of money and how expensive things are.

Perhaps you want change, it will not happen because you want it badly or simply by working hard. Hoping for something different will not have any effect.

You will always remain where you are unless- and it’s a big unless you- you change your thinking.

Your mind creates your reality.

A two-sided persuasive argument: the role of satire that may or may not serve to strengthen the emerging South African democracy

Construct a two-sided persuasive argument on the role of satire and/or parody – as a form of political communication – that may or may not serve to strengthen the emerging South African democracy. Make use of any of the relevant theories as discussed in class to analyse how any South African example of satire and/or parody may or may not contribute to the strengthening of this emerging democracy.




South Africa is in its advent of democracy, with only 21 years since the fall of the apartheid regime. It can be argued that South Africa is still a young fragile democracy. However, South Africa, through its constitution has advocated for a society with values and one aiming for change and accountability. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa has therefore enabled multiply liberties which its citizens should enjoy. This essay is about a two-sided persuasive argument on the role of satire and or parody as a form of communication that may or may not serve to strengthen the emerging South African democracy. This essay argues that freedom of expression brings forth the role of satire as strengthening democracy. However, on the other hand, this essay argues that conflicting rights can lead to the infringement of the freedom of express and to a greater extent, may overweigh other rights. Therefore, this may not serve to strengthen the emerging democracy. 


The relationship of comedy to political power has created the question of who gets to laugh publicly at whom and these remains as close today (Hall, 2015: 12). The right to question through comedy, or rather satire or parody, every idea and person in position of power is purely a lynchpin of democracy (Hall, 2015: 17). There are many countries in the world where political theatre or satire/ parody are not tolerated (Hall, 2015) and those in which it is endured. Accepting or not accepting the practice of satire and parody is due to conflicting liberties or rights, which are to a certain extent, overweighing other basic important freedoms. South African has undergone a regime of subjugation, where media operated under the vested power (Fourie, 2007). That is, the media are seen as a mouth piece of the ruling party. During the pre-apartheid era, South Africa was what seemed to be a dictatorial state, curbing liberties to the benefit and favour of state to control over the general civilians. The advent of the post-apartheid regime has opened new channels of constitutional liberties embracing a society of values which can assist the advancement of human rights and freedoms and to ensure accountability (Constitution of South Africa, 1996).

In giving a comparative analysis of the roles of satire and parody in a democracy, the first section of this essay intends on defining the core concepts with which this essay confines itself to. Core concepts to be defined are satire and democracy. In the second section of the essay, a two-sided persuasive argument will be constructed on the role of satire and or parody- as a form of political communication. That is, to argue for and against the role of satire or parody as either serving in strengthening the emerging South African democracy or not. This essays argues that freedom of expression may assist strengthen South Africa’s democracy. However, within the freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution, characteristics such as participation, social change, education and social commentary are outlined as elements playing a vital role in satirical work to help shape democracy. These characteristics are enabled by section 16 (Freedom of Expression) itself and therefore, make room for satire to play a significant role in society. On the other hand, this essay argues that rights in the constitution have limitations. Therefore, the freedom of expression has limitations too, which are in its subsection 2. Subsection 2 of the freedom of expression protects the freedom given under Section 16, in protecting citizens and to a larger extent, to protect other rights.  It is therefore argued that less restriction to the freedom of expression can led to the infringement of other rights and this, may not serve to strengthen the democracy. This is mainly because rights may conflict each other therefore, outweighing other important freedoms in society.

This essay will argue with reference to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa as a framework to help comprehend arguments advocated in this essay. Arguments will be also given under a backdrop of an understanding what democracy is, the role of media in a democracy and its limitations as a way to outline ways in which satire and parody may not serve to contribute to strengthening democracy. To help analyse arguments given here, examples to be used include the recent satirical work by Ayanda Mabulu of President Jacob Zuma title: The Pornography of Power including similar 2012 debate stirring paint by Brett Murray titled: The Spear and the Late Nite News (LNN) with comedian host, Loyiso Gola on e.tv or e-NCA and the work of Mail and Guardian’s cartoonist, Shapiro on current matters.


This section of this essay defines core concepts utilised in this essay. Terms defined in this essay are satire/parody and democracy. This section aims to explain these terms to assist with develop a clear argument in this essay. This essay will first explain what satire/parody is as a point of departure and secondly explain what democracy means. These definitions aims to assist in sustaining persuasive arguments regarding how satire in the South African context may or may not be detrimental or strengthen the emerging democracy.


There are various definitions of satire and parody in various literatures. Satire can be defined as the literature art of diminishing or derogating a subject by making it ridiculous and drawing toward it attitudes of amusement, while parody is meant to for mocking and may not incite society (Harris, 2005:1). Satire is defined as the use of humour, irony, exaggeration or ridicule, to expose and criticise people’s absurdity or voices (Dalton, 2010: 1). According to Dalton (2010), parody on the other hand can be defined as an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect. Parody represents a cultural practice which is strongly critical imitation of another cultural phenomenon. According to Elliott satire is a way of expression disapproval of certain perceived flaws and short comings by using literature devices such as mockery. Griffin (1994) argues that satire seeks to expose something foolish and immoral. Griffin (1994), further states that satire distinguishes itself from pure comedy by distorting elements, peculiar people, found in the real world.

This essay intends highlighting that satire plays a pivotal role in strengthening democracy. This essay aims to argue that satire also has characteristics which may not strengthen democracy. The use of satire and parody in political contexts is useful as it showcases politicians’ deficiencies through the use of humour. In a democratic dispensation such as South Africa, and where there is a privilege of the right to expression, comedians are given the platform to inform the audiences about their political leaders using humour. It is the means to the end (Becker & Raveloson, 2008: 4).


The term democracy is a word familiar to most people and generally used a lot. But, its definition is often misunderstood and misused. According to Hall (2015: 12), defines the word democracy as a form of sovereign power (kratos) held by the free populace (the demos) in a particular society. The word democracy derives from the Greek word demos, or people, is defined, basically, as government in which the supreme power is vested in the people (Hall, 2015). In some forms, democracy can be exercised directly by the people; in large societies, it is by the people through their elected agents (Hall, 2015). Or, in the memorable phrase of President Abraham Lincoln, democracy is government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Freedom and democracy are often used interchangeably, but the two are not synonymous (Becker & Raveloson, 2008). Democracy is indeed a set of ideas and principles about freedom, but it also consists of practices and procedures that have been moulded through as it is been practised (Schmitter & Karl, 1991; Campbell, 2008). In its emblematic form, democracy means the institutionalization of freedom.


3.1. Freedom of expression (Section 16)

The freedom of expression carries its own inherent worth which has been bestowed by the previous government, and serves as collection if other constitutional ends in an open and democratic society. Therefore, if freedom of expression was a response to the ills of the previous government, restricting it would mean implying a paradox of a democracy which regresses to oppression. According to the Freedom of Expression Institute (2013: 10), freedom of expression can be defined as relating “to the liberty to be able to hold opinions and to impart and or receive these as well as ideas and information to others in any form”.

Parody and satire contribute to accountability in the emerging state of a democracy, including the significance of the freedom of expression as a requisite ideal in post-apartheid South Africa. With reference to the Constitution of South Africa by advocating that freedom of expression should be evident in political discourse. A democratic dispensation is associated with liberties that citizens can enjoy in their country. The South African constitution has given citizens multiply freedoms embedded as a form of Bill of rights and sections. These liberties are embedded in the constitution are a cornerstone of a democracy and affirms the democratic values (Republic of South African constitution, 1996).

The right of expression is a fundamental constitutional right citizen within a democratic state. The act to voice ones view in a society is the right of all citizens and a democratic society. According to Langer, 2011: 33), freedom of thought, views and speech are the most important duties of every person in a democracy. Freedom of expression is a right enabled and embedded in the constitution in South Africa. It is significant that satire and parody are acts of expression that are vital in political development. However, the right to freedom of expression is element of the role of satire that may strengthen democracy.

Section 16 of the Constitution of the South African states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression which includes-

  1. a) Freedom of the press and other media
  2. b) Freedom to receive or impart information or ideas
  3. c) Freedom of artistic creativity; and academic freedom and,
  4. d) Freedom of scientific research (Republic of the South African Constitution, 1996).

This right enshrined in the constitution, seen as a basic human right, allowing people in a country to act as rational beings who can reasons and make choices and can distinguish between good and bad, evil and good (Fourie, 2007). Freedom of expression may strengthen the South African emerging democracy by enabling social commentary, to promote participation and educate masses in favour of political communication.

Social commentary

According to Worington (2013: 1), freedom of speech is considered one of the most sacred of rights in countries that champion the ideals of democracy, equality and human freedoms. Within the liberty of expressing oneself, satire and parody stimulate and create a platform where citizens at grassroots level caucus on topical matters that may have been shed through satiric work. This enables and invites views and opinions of citizens. However, this shapes political policies and highlights priorities with which citizens are calling the government to deliver. Through the creation of platforms of airing views enabled by the Constitution itself, it is important to note that this section permits social commentary. In order for an emerging democracy to be strengthened, it is essential that all who live in it find a voice on various issues.


A democracy is a country with at least a source of information (Morlino, 2009). This is directly seen in section 32 of the Constitution of South Africa, which highlights that everyone has a right to access to information (Republic of South Africa, 1996). This means that therefore means that it is paramount importance for the public to know what is going on in the country. This is often played through satirical work, bringing to the fore what is often the societal undressed matters. However, the freedom to receive or impart information through satirical work also creates participation at grassroots level, strengthening democracy. Participation in emerging democratic dispensation is vital in that it shows those in power of the demands and basic needs that citizens are bringing to their attention. It may be through voting for a political organisation, having your say through commentary platforms, making choices beneficial to the development of a democracy is also another element that may strengthen it.

Social change

In a broad term, satire and parody may through freedom of expression strengthen the emerging democracy by been a strong force to highlight social change. This is so due to the fact that satire and parody are communicated in the media, with a potential of reaching masses and making impacts. Through different media platforms, satire and parody commentaries may be used to highlight movements that are evident to impact matters that are facing young democracies that are evident in post-apartheid South Africa. The voice that is been permitted by the bills of rights can allow the drive to social change. The more citizens air their views and more seldom heard and sometimes never attended to matters are to be heard. Therefore would be vital in the South African dispensation, creating a social space of change from tumultuous history of South Africa.

Educating masses

Freedom of expression also has an educational element in it. Through the freedom allowing satirists to express them influences a community which probes on issues communicated through their work. However, satire and parody sparks curiosity in citizens therefore creating the need to know what is happening locally. To a larger extent, satire and parody delivered on various media platforms informs citizens on what is newsworthy. Although this is done in humorous ways, satire largely educates viewers. Through its educational element enabled by section 16 of the constitution, this may help strengthen democracy. According to Brewer & Marquardt (2007: 249), satirical shows have the potential to educate viewers about politics (including policy issues), draw their attention to events in world affairs, and encourage them to think critically or perhaps cynically. For instance, in South Africa a satirical show called The Late Nite Show (LNN) presented by comedian Loyiso Gola on channel e.tv or eNCA plays a role of educating citizens about issues happening around them but with the use of humour. However, education in a democracy is vital to assist citizens to make decisions that are binding in the country.


4.1. Infringing other Constitutional rights

In conjunction to the perks of liberties in a democratic dispensation, it can be argued that limitations of rights in the constitution are stipulated by highlighting subsections on what would actually put democracy at stake or even harm it. Roles of satire and parody that may not serve to strengthen democracy are outweighed by the roles that serve to support democracy.  With the use of the Constitution of South Africa, as a framework, it highlights limitations to rights enshrined in it. According to the constitution (1999), rights may be limited only in terms of law of general application to the extent that the limitation is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom, taking into account all relevant factors such as the nature of the right, the significance of the purpose of the limitation, the nature and extent of the limitation, and less restrictive means to achieve the purpose (Constitution of South Africa, 1999: 1261).

This means that rights embedded for our consideration and enjoyment do have measure that limit them. For example, under the Bill of Rights, sub-section 1 often highlights a section of the right that vitally put up to assist in shaping democracy. Therefore, sub-section 2 of the rights often curbs what may seem harmful to citizens by stipulating limitations. Thus, except as provided in subsection (1) or in any other provision of the Constitution, no law may limit any right entrenched in the Bill of Rights (Constitution of South Africa, 1999).

In terms of Section 16, which is the right to freedom of expression mentioned herewith to argue that satire and parody serve to strengthen democracy through the freedom of expression. However, it must be borne in minds that subsection 2 of freedom of expression states its limitation, protecting citizens from possible other harms.

Subsection 2 of the freedom of expression outlines that:

(2) The right in subsection (1) does not extend to-

  1. a) Propaganda for war;
  2. b) Incitement of imminent violence; or
  3. c) Advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm (Constitution of South Africa, 1999: 1249).

It could be argued that the use of the freedom of expression without caution may lead to the infringement of other rights. It may stand against rights such as the right to human dignity, cultural, religious and linguistic communities, including freedoms of belief and opinion.

The role of satire may not strengthen democracy if and to a greater extent other freedoms are oppressed or infringed. To a larger extent, satire and parody may not strengthen the emerging South African democracy by infringing other constitutional freedoms.

To mention but a few, freedom of expression collides with freedoms such as the right to dignity. The right to dignity, which in is Section 10 of the constitution has been argued as one of the freedoms with which satire and parody have potential damaged in cases of court appeals in South Africa. For instance, the recent satirical panting by Ayanda Mabulu titled The Pornography of Power (News24, 2015) is yet another satirical painting depicting President Jacob Zuma in the nude. This painting has debated matters of the infringement of privacy and to a greater extent, the harm to the president’s dignity. This satirical artwork the only piece of work which has questioned the infringement of other rights argued against the freedom of expression. This satirical artwork is not the first to depict the president’s genitals as social commentary. Artist Brett Murray’s The Spear had paint thrown at it, and was the subject of an urgent court application by the African National Congress (ANC), which was outraged by it (Mail and Guardian, 2012, News24, 2015).

Within the same case study, not only did the right to human dignity be argued as an infringed freedom but freedom of privacy (Section 14 of the Constitution of South Africa) was debated as colliding and overriding the media’s right to expression. During a legal battle at the South African Gauteng High Court between largely the ANC and President Jacob Zuma particularly and artist Brett Murray was argued to have overweighed Zama’s freedom of privacy (Mail and Guardian, 2012). The ruling party and Zuma will seek an urgent interdict against the gallery and the paper, ordering the image to be removed from the exhibition and taken off the newspaper’s website, arguing that it violates the president’s right to privacy and dignity (Mail and Guardian, 2015).

Advocate Johan Gaum said the elements constituting defamation of character or libel are “clearly present”, but it would be “complex” for the court to decide if these laws were infringed upon. Advocate Norman Arendse said the case was “almost unprecedented” because it weighed sections of South African Constitution against one another.


This essay argued for both the positive and negative role satire and parody may or may not serve in strengthening the emerging South African democracy. The democratic dispensation has enabled rights with which cartoonists or all citizen to practice artist creativity if they wish to do so. Democracy has also been to limit liberties it has made available for all to enjoy. This is due to monitoring the misuse of these rights by all means. This essay argues outline possible ways in which satire may serve to strengthen democracy through the use the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa’s section 16 (freedom of expression) underlying elements such as social commentary, educating masses, creating social change and participation which are vital for a democratic dispensation to grow. It is also argues in this essay that the infringement of other rights caused by satire or parody may not serve to reinforce democracy.


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