Monthly Archives: November 2015

I know why the caged bird sings: Maya Angelou

Fairy in Garden

Caged Bird

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Baby sleeping on crescent moon

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

Balloon Circle

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou, “Caged Bird” from Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? Copyright © 1983 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)

Gender-Based Violence Command Centre wins Best Technology Innovation world award

Announcement animation

Pretoria, November 5, 2015 – The Department of Social Development’s Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC) – a 24-hour call centre dedicated to providing support and counselling to victims of gender based violence – has been named the Best Technology Innovation – Small Centre of the world at the Global Best Contact Centre Awards in Las Vegas on November 5.

As the Gold Medal Winner, this means the GBVCC is ranked number one in the world in its category.

This adds to three other highly acclaimed service awards the GBVCC has won since its launch in March 2014 – the Innovation Award in the Contact Centre Management Group (CCMG) awards, the Changing Lives Award in the Africom Awards, as well as the Golden Award won in the Technological Innovation Awards in London.

Minister for Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, says the international recognition of the GBVCC communicates the South African government’s commitment to fighting gender-based violence to the rest of the world and places the country at the lead of international best practice against gender-based violence.

“We launched the Command Centre as part of our service delivery improvement programme aimed at responding quicker, more effectively and innovatively to social challenges in the country, Project Mikondzo. Being recognised for best technology innovation in the world confirms that we are on the right track and it inspires us to work even harder to find inventive ways of responding effectively to the social challenges in the country.

Rose opening Animation

“The award comes just a few weeks before we launch the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children 2015 Campaign and emboldens us to work harder to eradicate violence against women and children. We express our thanks to the organisations who have partnered with us in making this project a reality,” said Minister Dlamini.

The GBVCC uses mobile technology to estimate the location of a victim, assign the closest social worker in the field to the case, and record and receive continuous feedback on the case. When a caller contacts the GBVCC from a mobile phone, they are (with explicit permission) geographically located, enabling the Centre to determine the resources nearest to the caller, whether it be a social worker, a police station, a hospital or safe house. In this way, help is dispatched in quick fashion.

The toll free number to call to speak to a social worker for assistance and counselling is 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV). Callers can also request a social worker from the Command Centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cell phone.

Girl holding teddy

The GBVCC emanated from the work of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on the Root Causes of Violence Against Women and Children – chaired by Minister Dlamini.

The IMC was established by President Jacob Zuma in May 2012 to reinforce political leadership and accountability in the national prevention and response to the rising figures of sexual violence in our country.

The membership of the IMC comprises of the Ministers of Justice and Constitutional Development; Women; Home Affairs; Police and Basic Education. Through the GBVCC, the work of this Committee is certainly contributing towards the improvement of the country response to and prevention of sexual violence.

Media inquiries: Lumka Oliphant on 083 484 8067 or

365 Days of Violence Against Women – Because We Can!


The 16 days for no violence against women and children is commemorated annually from 25 November to 10 December and every year a theme is usually assigned to the campaign in an effort to get everyone speaking with one voice.

The theme for the campaign in South Africa for 2015 is: “Count me in: Together moving a non-violent South Africa forward”.

Sadly, I find this theme laughable! Why?

Abuse_Woman hiding face

Violence against women and children in South Africa continues unabated because there are no serious consequences for the perpetrators and because, in most cases, the courts and justice system fail the victims, survivors and their families.

All this violence is perpetrated in spite of wonderful progressive legislation which looks good on paper, but in reality, serves no purpose. We have, for example:

• The Domestic Violence Act (which has one of the broadest definitions of violence against women and children)
• South Africa has ratified the Convention on Violence Against Women
• South Africa has introduced a 365 days National Action Plan to end gender violence
• South Africa has instituted a National Council against gender-based violence
• South Africa has prioritised measures for the promotion and empowerment of women, such as setting up a special Government department


In spite of all this, violence against women and children continues. Various studies have shown that 40 – 50 percent of women have experienced intimate partner violence. On top of all this, incidents of violence against women and children still go largely unreported. The approximately 50,000 rapes reported annually are estimated to be about nine times lower than the actual number reported.

Violence against women and children is so firmly entrenched in South Africa and it does not seem to be changing. Instead, violence has become an accepted way to assert and reassert masculinity and dominance.

Abuse_Woman on couch

What we need in South Africa:
• Government to provide resources to enforce the legislation that will send a strong message that these acts are unacceptable.
• Government must help change the cultural and religious beliefs and practices. Reforming gender-violent cultural and religious beliefs will be extremely challenging – almost impossible – if public leaders continue to enforce stereotypical beliefs and practices
• Civil society is in a position to work with people in transforming misguided cultural and religious beliefs and practices and has a duty to see to it that legislation and policies on violence against women are enforced.
• Civil society has to help improve people’s understanding of the relevant laws and policies and restore their trust in Government institutions.
• Civil society needs to publicly condemn Government leaders who speak and act in ways that enforce gender equality and women’s marginalisation.

Abuse_Woman cowering

We need a strong, united, multi-level response from both Government and civil society which is still not happening. Women and children continue to suffer as a result.

I also wrote:
The Stages of Power a mature man must progress through –
Find it here: