Tuesday, March 2, 2010

But Is It Art? Arts Minister vs Lesbian Art

Isn't Art a fine tool to evoke emotions? Isn't it a wonderful vehicle to expose ignorance, area of opportunity or just a platform to enable individuals to share, teach and create awareness?
Most might answer yes while some might reciprocate with BUT IS IT ART?
I will not attempt to answer the question “BUT IS IT ART?” the one which has been asked since the inception of art but I will say this:
My believe is that such a question arises when an artist has successfully created a piece or a body of work that not only raises a few eyebrows or hits the viewer with pure honesty but also sends others such as Lulu Xingwana the South African minister of Arts and Culture on what some industry peers called homophobic frenzy.

Here is a young black woman who is not only well commended in her area of expertise but also courageous enough to confront a subject matter that touches people in many varied ways, black women sexuality. Among other things, through her work Muholi has brought to light what black lesbians in South Africa (and beyond) have to endure in their daily existence including hate crimes from members of the society who so desperately need to be educated about [this].
The Minister of Arts and Culture slammed her work at the Opening of an exhibition in Constitution Hill (Johannesburg, South Africa) calling [it] immoral, pornographic and also saying her department services a mandate that promotes social cohesion and national building. According to tonight.co.za the minister further mentioned that she left the show before delivering her opening speech because Muholi’s work expressed the opposite of her department’s mandate.
My question is where is national building when those in prominent positions with the resources to assist in bringing the nation together contradict their own decree, by failing to appreciating the artists’ point of conception? I believe such people as Xingwana need to lead by example in doing away with marginalising what may seem “other” in the society due to lack of education.

In a brief conversation with Muholi, she said she was afraid the minister’s reaction may create the worst hate crimes against black lesbians in South Africa, the very thing which her work attempts to address by showing humility and vulnerability of the women in her photography.

Since Xingwana is in no possession of formal Art education, one wonders what kind of pieces would constitute her body of work - that is if she made time to study towards a qualification in Arts.

Perhaps as people, we should stick to what we know best, support where possible, teach where a lesson is due and appreciate others’ reasons for doing what they do.

Muholi is currently in Melbourne where she is based at Monash University in Artist Residency program with fellow South African artist Anthea Moys. It would be interesting to see the respond to her work in these parts.
Find Muholi on www.zanelemuholi.com
Find Moys on www.antheamoys.co.za
Image: Courtesy of the Artist's website.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Placenta Abruption

Placenta Abruption

What is it?

A complication that occurs to approximately 0, 5% of pregnancies and it arises when the placenta peels off the wall of the uterus causing the blood to pool and creating a clot.

Why does it happen?

For a number of inconclusive reasons or medical mystery at this stage. Researchers are continuing their endeavour. In my case; because my placenta was not rooting well, my baby’s growth slowed down and he was distressed – by the time I obtain the diagnosis it was too late.

Who does it happen to?

Any pregnant woman with underlying situation that could not be detected by
standard pregnancy test/scans (such as the usual ultrasounds that every pregnant woman attends)

When does it happen?

-I believe it usually happens late in pregnancy (I stand to be corrected – this is based on my experience the stories I’ve come across)

What is the solution to prevent it?

If diagnosed in time, the size of the blood clot will determine how much risk the baby & mother are in and based on that; an emergency Caesarean is usually an alternative.
When my Dr at Pretoria Academy Hospital told me that by performing Caesarean I could loose my life; I didn’t know what I was suppose to feel because it meant I had to birth my son naturally which also meant I could (in my own way) bid him farewell before I met him, it was the most bizarre feeling I’ve ever had and the scale of my circumstances only hit me days after I left the hospital.

… And why am I saying all these out loud?

Well, one of the many advises that I took on board after loosing my son was that I must talk in order to help my sanity. So at the end of each sentence I feel better than at the beginning of it and the significance of knowing that someone else is reading [this] gives me comfort to know that by sharing with you - means you will have empathy for me and other mothers as well as appreciate the position that stillbirth leaves a grieving mother in.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Becoming mamaD.

My name is Dorcas and I’m a mother who lost a first son to stillbirth. On the 19th May 2007 I experienced a shock to my system so much so that I did not – could not cry for days! My son, Val was born silent. Since that mystifying day I’ve always known that Val did not pass-on in vain I also knew that I would do something about this ordeal; so tabooed that I was astonished to learn that most of the women in my mother’s age who came to give their condolences have lost a child at birth or miscarried.

So I’m creating this blog to begin a discourse among women from all walks of life to share our experiences regarding stillbirth and issues relating to pregnancy and birth.
When I read this article below; I must admit I had mixed feelings because during my experience I was 26 and very healthy. I’ve never smoked or taken alcohol or overweight, if anything I believe I was the healthiest I’ve been. I’m not suggesting that the researchers are wrong or anything like that - I’m merely saying there are so many other factors that may lead to stillbirth and this is why funding is needed to support stillbirth organisations worldwide to help make sense of this medical mystery. In my case it was a result of Placenta Abruptio/Abruption. No one told me about the health of my placenta or how well my placenta needed to root in order to feed my baby. While pregnant we are advised to take care of ourselves by eating well, exercising, quit smoking, stop drinking and lots of other obvious things. We are however not told about other risk factors such as the health of our placenta which can affect the baby’s growth by not passing enough nutrients, blood, etc and may even detach abruptly without the mother realising and result in foetal distress which if not diagnosed on time may cause stillbirth.
Obesity, age link to stillbirths
KATE BENSON, The Age, October 15 2008
There could be an "epidemic of stillbirths" in Australia in the next few years if the nation's obesity rate continues to soar and more women aged over 35 have children, researchers have found.
An analysis of more than 100 studies on stillbirth over 10 years, the largest of its kind in Australia and New Zealand, has found about 40 per cent of the 2000 Australian stillbirths a year are preventable if a woman loses any excessive weight, has children earlier and gives up smoking.
"That's 800 babies a year which could be saved if we were able to remove these three modifiable factors," the study's lead researcher, Vicki Flenady, said …
More than 35 per cent of pregnant women are overweight or obese and one in every seven babies in Australia is now born to a first-time mother aged over 35.
Professor Ellwood said other factors which appeared to increase a woman's risk of stillbirth were identified but required further research. These included advanced paternal age, maternal stress, inadequate antenatal care, previous caesarean section, excess caffeine intake, alcohol and substance use. Obesity-related type 2 diabetes also played a role.
The study, the largest of its kind in Australia, was based on the data collected from the 1,264 stillbirths recorded in NSW between 2002 and 2004.
If you are currently pregnant, I don’t mean to scare you or stress you in anyway, but I would say this to you; as you approach the final months of your pregginess – listen to your body because only you know it better than anyone and if something doesn’t feel/seem right and you feel the need to go for a check up do so without hesitation. Sometimes you get used to your baby’s movements, if this changes for example if your baby is usually active in the morning but that day you can’t feel him/her move as he/she usually does; take a cold glass of water and lay on you back for a little while and if nothing happens GO TO HOSPITAL to get your baby monitored!!!! This might turn out to be a worry over nothing because your bub is having a lazy day but it can also save your bub’s life.
See the day I lost my Val, I went into labor without knowing and I’m one of those people who can handle pain and I’ve learnt (the hard way) that in pregnancy every little pain is there for a reason and it needs the attention.
On 16 April 2009 we were blessed with a precious gift that we named Kristijan Thato. He was born 5 weeks pre-mature at 1.98 kg. I live my life with no regrets and I believe that everything happens for a reason but sometimes I ask myself “had I known what I know now would my son be alive today?” and then I realise that perhaps this happened to me so I can enlighten other women who are hoping to start a family.

Stillbirth resources: