Toolkit dementievriendelijk ontwerpen ~ Hoe een architect kan helpen om langer thuis te blijven wonen
Oktober 2014. Een gladde, glimmende vloer, chloorlucht in de keuken en bewegende gordijnen, het is allemaal not done. Wel aan te raden is het gebruik van absorberende, geluiddempende materialen, zware gordijnen, een keuken die naar eten ruikt en een badkamer naar zeep. Zo maar een greep uit de tips van de Toolkit Dementievriendelijk Ontwerpen, ontwikkeld door KAW architecten in opdracht van Kenniscentrum Wonen-zorg van Actiz Aedes. De auteurs bieden een overzichtelijke lijst do’s en don’ts die van nut zijn bij het ontwerpen en inrichten van woonruimtes voor mensen met dementie.
De uitgave bestaat uit drie delen, het eerste deel is thematisch van opzet, met aandacht voor de zintuigelijke waarnemingen. Het tweede deel gaat over aanpassingen in een zelfstandige woning. Het derde deel behandelt de tips waar rekening mee gehouden moet worden in een zorgcomplex. Met een indeling in geschikt en ongeschikt en door foto’s met foute voorbeelden, een rood kruis wordt in één oogopslag duidelijk gemaakt wat wel en niet aan te bevelen is. Maar de belangrijkste tip van deze uitgave staat in de inleiding. Dat is het advies aan ontwerpers om als het ware in de huid te kruipen van iemand met dementie en zich tevoren in te leven hoe deze een ruimte ervaart. De auteurs hebben zich intensief in de materie verdiept, valt ook op te maken uit de uitgebreide documentatie. Op basis van al die kennis komen ze tot hele praktische tips die ontwerpers ongetwijfeld veel houvast bieden. Toch ligt juist hier de Achilleshiel van deze prachtige catalogus. Want uit de introductie op het onderwerp valt op te maken dat een ontwerper niet kan volstaan met het afvinken van deze checklist, terwijl de Toolkit daartoe juist wel heel erg uitnodigt.
Overbruggen van twee werelden
Voor mensen die het besef van tijd en ruimte langzaam kwijt raken, is de indeling van een huis heel erg belangrijk, net als de inrichting van de woonruimte. Dementie is een complexe ziekte en mensen met dementie zijn niet over één kam te scheren, het gaat om mensen van vlees en bloed met een eigen achtergrond. Vandaar dat er rekening gehouden moet worden met een grote diversiteit in de aard en intensiteit van hun beperkingen en verschillen in stadia van dementie die te onderscheiden zijn. Dit vraagt heel veel van een ontwerper. Naast zijn vakkennis vereist dit ook inzicht in de betekenis van de beperkingen in het dagelijks leven van mensen en inlevingsvermogen in de dilemma’s waar ze tegen aan lopen. Het is lastig om het verschil te overbruggen tussen de wereld van het ontwerp en design en de complexe en kwijnende werkelijkheid van mensen met geheugenproblemen en toenemende dementie. Hier ligt nog wel een uitdaging voor een vervolguitgave.
Het thema komt regelmatig langs in het nieuws: de dubbele vergrijzing en in het kielzog hiervan het groeiend aantal mensen met dementie. Alles wijst er op dat het om een urgent maatschappelijk probleem gaat. De zorg krijgt het hier de komende decennia nog druk mee. Te meer omdat er binnen afzienbare tijd geen medicijnen op de markt komen om deze ziekte de kop in te drukken. Vandaar ook dat de overheid haast maakt met maatregelen om de kosten voor de zorg in de hand te houden. Bijvoorbeeld door het gebruik van woon- en zorgvoorzieningen af te remmen. En het beleid er op te richten dat mensen met ernstige geheugenproblemen of dementie langer thuis blijven wonen. Dit laatste ligt overigens voor de hand, want dit is in het algemeen ook de wens van ouderen zelf. Toch is nu al te voorzien dat het gros van de huizen niet voldoet aan de toekomstige eisen die samenhangen met de ouderdom en dementie. Goed beschouwd ligt hier een gigantische markt voor het bouwen en levensloopbestendig maken van woningen voor deze doelgroep. Ook de zorg is gebaat bij beter aangepaste huisvesting, want hun werkdruk wordt ontlast als er in woningen voldoende rekening wordt gehouden met de beperkingen vanhun cliënten. Want naast meer mantelzorg en de introductie van slimme technische hulpmiddelen, kan ook het aanpassen van huizen soelaas bieden om dementerenden langer thuis te laten wonen. Read more
With an Introduction by Milton Keynes
The Ndebele of Zimbabwe, who today constitute about twenty percent of the population of the country, have a very rich and heroic history. It is partly this rich history that constitutes a resource that reinforces their memories and sense of a particularistic identity and distinctive nation within a predominantly Shona speaking country. It is also partly later developments ranging from the colonial violence of 1893-4 and 1896-7 (Imfazo 1 and Imfazo 2); Ndebele evictions from their land under the direction of the Rhodesian colonial settler state; recurring droughts in Matabeleland; ethnic forms taken by Zimbabwean nationalism; urban events happening around the city of Bulawayo; the state-orchestrated and ethnicised violence of the 1980s targeting the Ndebele community, which became known as Gukurahundi; and other factors like perceptions and realities of frustrated economic development in Matabeleland together with ever-present threats of repetition of Gukurahundi-style violence—that have contributed to the shaping and re-shaping of Ndebele identity within Zimbabwe.
The Ndebele history is traced from the Ndwandwe of Zwide and the Zulu of Shaka. The story of how the Ndebele ended up in Zimbabwe is explained in terms of the impact of the Mfecane—a nineteenth century revolution marked by the collapse of the earlier political formations of Mthethwa, Ndwandwe, and Ngwane kingdoms replaced by new ones of the Zulu under Shaka, the Sotho under Moshweshwe, and others built out of Mfecane refugees and asylum seekers. The revolution was also characterized by violence and migration that saw some Nguni and Sotho communities burst asunder and fragmenting into fleeing groups such as the Ndebele under Mzilikazi Khumalo, the Kololo under Sebetwane, the Shangaans under Soshangane, the Ngoni under Zwangendaba, and the Swazi under Queen Nyamazana. Out of these migrations emerged new political formations like the Ndebele state, that eventually inscribed itself by a combination of coercion and persuasion in the southwestern part of the Zimbabwean plateau in 1839-1840. The migration and eventual settlement of the Ndebele in Zimbabwe is also part of the historical drama that became intertwined with another dramatic event of the migration of the Boers from Cape Colony into the interior in what is generally referred to as the Great Trek, that began in 1835. It was military clashes with the Boers that forced Mzilikazi and his followers to migrate across the Limpopo River into Zimbabwe.
As a result of the Ndebele community’s dramatic history of nation construction, their association with such groups as the Zulu of South Africa renowned for their military prowess, their heroic migration across the Limpopo, their foundation of a nation out of Nguni, Sotho, Tswana, Kalanga, Rozvi and ‘Shona’ groups, and their practice of raiding that they attracted enormous interest from early white travellers, missionaries and early anthropologists. This interest in the life and history of the Ndebele produced different representations, ranging from the Ndebele as an indomitable ‘martial tribe’ ranking alongside the Zulu, Maasai and Kikuyu, who also attracted the attention of early white literary observers, as ‘warriors’ and militaristic groups. This resulted in a combination of exoticisation and demonization that culminated in the Ndebele earning many labels such as ‘bloodthirsty destroyers’ and ‘noble savages’ within Western colonial images of Africa.
With the passage of time, the Ndebele themselves played up to some of the earlier characterizations as they sought to build a particular identity within an environment in which they were surrounded by numerically superior ‘Shona’ communities. The warrior identity suited Ndebele hegemonic ideologies. Their Shona neighbours also contributed to the image of the Ndebele as the militaristic and aggressive ‘other’. Within this discourse, the Shona portrayed themselves as victims of Ndebele raiders who constantly went away with their livestock and women—disrupting their otherwise orderly and peaceful lives. A mythology thus permeates the whole spectrum of Ndebele history, fed by distortions and exaggerations of Ndebele military prowess, the nature of Ndebele governance institutions, and the general way of life.
My interest is primarily in unpacking and exploding the mythology within Ndebele historiography while at the same time making new sense of Ndebele hegemonic ideologies. My intention is to inform the broader debate on pre-colonial African systems of governance, the conduct of politics, social control, and conceptions of human security. Therefore, the book The Ndebele Nation (see: below) delves deeper into questions of how Ndebele power was constructed, how it was institutionalized and broadcast across people of different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. These issues are examined across the pre-colonial times up to the mid-twentieth century, a time when power resided with the early Rhodesian colonial state. I touch lightly on the question of whether the violent transition from an Ndebele hegemony to a Rhodesia settler colonial hegemony was in reality a transition from one flawed and coercive regime to another. Broadly speaking this book is an intellectual enterprise in understanding political and social dynamics that made pre-colonial Ndebele states tick; in particular, how power and authority were broadcast and exercised, including the nature of state-society relations.
What emerges from the book is that while the pre-colonial Ndebele state began as an imposition on society of Khumalo and Zansi hegemony, the state simultaneously pursued peaceful and ideological ways of winning the consent of the governed. This became the impetus for the constant and ongoing drive for ‘democratization,’ so as contain and displace the destructive centripetal forces of rebellion and subversion. Within the Ndebele state, power was constructed around a small Khumalo clan ruling in alliance with some dominant Nguni (Zansi) houses over a heterogeneous nation on the Zimbabwean plateau. The key question is how this small Khumalo group in alliance with the Zansi managed to extend their power across a majority of people of non-Nguni stock. Earlier historians over-emphasized military coercion as though violence was ever enough as a pillar of nation-building. In this book I delve deeper into a historical interrogation of key dynamics of state formation and nation-building, hegemony construction and inscription, the style of governance, the creation of human rights spaces and openings, and human security provision, in search of those attributes that made the Ndebele state tick and made it survive until it was destroyed by the violent forces of Rhodesian settler colonialism.
The book takes a broad revisionist approach involving systematic revisiting of earlier scholarly works on the Ndebele experiences in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and critiquing them. A critical eye is cast on interpretation and making sense of key Ndebele political and social concepts and ideas that do not clearly emerge in existing literature. Throughout the book, the Ndebele historical experiences are consistently discussed in relation to a broad range of historiography and critical social theories of hegemony and human rights, and post-colonial discourses are used as tools of analysis.
Empirically and thematically, the book focuses on the complex historical processes involving the destruction of the autonomy of the decentralized Khumalo clans, their dispersal from their coastal homes in Nguniland, and the construction of Khumalo hegemony that happened in tandem with the formation of the Ndebele state in the midst of the Mfecane revolution. It further delves deeper into the examination of the expansion and maturing of the Ndebele State into a heterogeneous settled nation north of the Limpopo River. The colonial encounter with the Ndebele state dating back to the 1860s culminating in the imperialist violence of the 1890s and the subsequent colonization of the Ndebele in 1897 is also subjected to consistent analysis in this book.
What is evident is that the broad spectrum of Ndebele history was shot through with complex ambiguities and contradictions that have so far not been subjected to serious scholarly analysis. These ambiguities include tendencies and practices of domination versus resistance as the Ndebele rebelled against both pre-colonial African despots like Zwide and Shaka as well as against Rhodesian settler colonial conquest. The Ndebele fought to achieve domination, material security, political autonomy, cultural and political independence, social justice, human dignity, and tolerant governance even within their state in the face of a hegemonic Ndebele ruling elite that sought to maintain its political dominance and material privileges through a delicate combination of patronage, accountability, exploitation, and limited coercion.
The overarching analytical perspective is centred on the problem of the relation between coercion and consent during different phases of Ndebele history up to their encounter with colonialism. Major shifts from clan to state, migration to settlement, and single ethnic group to multi-ethnic society are systematically analyzed with the intention of revealing the concealed contradictions, conflict, tension, and social cleavages that permitted conquest, desertions, raiding, assimilation, domination, and exploitation, as well as social security, communalism, and tolerance. These ideologies, practices and values combined and co-existed uneasily, periodically and tendentiously within the Ndebele society. They were articulated in varied and changing idioms, languages and cultural traditions, and underpinned by complex institutions.
The book also demonstrates how the Ndebele cherished their cultural and political independence to the extent of responding violently to equally violent imperialist forces which were intolerant of their sovereignty and cultural autonomy. The fossilisation of tensions between the Ndebele and agents of Western modernity revolved around notions of rights, modes of worshiping God (religion and spirituality), concepts of social status, contestations over gender relations, and general Ndebele modes of political rule. Within the Ndebele state religious, political, judiciary and economic powers were embodied within the kingship, and the Christian missionaries wanted to separate the spiritual/religious power from the political power. This threatened Ndebele hegemony and was inevitably resisted by the Ndebele kingship. In the end, the British imperialists together with their local agents like Cecil John Rhodes, Charles Rudd, John Smith Moffat, Charles Helm and many others, reached a consensus to use open violence on the Ndebele state so as to destroy it and replace it with a colonial state amenable to Western interests and Christian religion. The invasion, conquest and colonisation of the Ndebele became a tale of unprovoked violence and looting of Ndebele material wealth, particularly cattle, in the period 1893 to1897.
The book ends by grappling with some of the complex ambiguities and contradictions of the colonial encounter and the equally ambiguous Ndebele reactions to early colonial rule during the first quarter of the twentieth century. Thus, from a longer-term perspective, the issues raised in this book have important resonance with current concerns around nation building, power construction, democratization, sovereignty, legitimacy, and violence in Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular.
Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, February 2008 Read more
Rozenberg Quarterly will publish on paper and online:
Jan Briffaerts – When Congo wants to go to school. Educational realities in a colonial context. An investigation into educational practices in primary education in the Belgian Congo (1925-1960) – Pb – 420 pag. – € 39,50 – ISBN 978 90 3610 144 8 – 2014
The education system in the Congo was widely considered to be one of the best in colonial Africa, in particular because of its broad reach among the Congolese youth. At independence however, the wake-up call was brutal as soon it became clear that the colonial educational system had neglected to form an educated class of people able to cope with administrating one of Africa’s biggest and economically most important countries. To be able to understand the mechanisms and effects of missionary education it is most enlightening to go back to the classroom and investigate the everyday reality of school. What did missionary education do exactly, how did it work, what did it teach, and how did it relate to its subjects, the children of the Congo?
This study gives clear insights into the everyday realities of colonial education. It is the result of historical research into educational practices and realities in catholic missionary schools in the Tshuapa region, located in the south of the Congolese province of Equateur. It is based on a rich array of historical source material, ranging from missionary archives and mission periodicals through to contemporary literature and interviews with missionnaries and former pupils who experienced colonial education themselves. The title, “When Congo wants to go to school… ” refers to one of many articles published in Belgian mission periodicals on the subject of the education and civilisation work carried out by missionaries in the Belgian colony.
The complete book now online:
Introduction & A Few Preliminary Remarks
Educational Organisation In The Belgian Congo (1908-1958)
The Missionaries And The Belgian Congo: Preparation, Ideas And Conceptions Of The Missionaries
Catholic Missions In The Tshuapa Region
The research project that formed the foundation for this study grew from a few existing lines of research. On the one hand it relates to research on the so-called Belgian civilisation project in the Congo, on the other to research into the micro-history of education in Belgium. Both my promoter and I have some experience in research into colonial education. Marc Depaepe’s work on the colonial phenomenon grew out of a representative, personal connection to it. As with many Flemish people, the colonial past was a part of his family history. The letters from his great aunt, Sister Maria Adonia Depaepe, a missionary in the Congo between 1909 and 1961, which he later published, are a testimony to this. Her personal documents were published as part of a project on the history of education, more specifically the missionary action of the Belgians in the former colony. The result was a general study at a macro level based on the theory of historical education, focussing in on the educational policy and institutional development of colonial education. At about the time this book was published I was writing an extended paper in the framework of the “Historische kritiek” (tr. Historical criticism) lectures in the history department at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels. The subject of my paper was the “school struggle” in the nineteen fifties in the Belgian Congo. This paper really related to a part of political history and the political players behind colonial education, particularly in Belgium and to a limited extent the Belgian Congo. Some years later the content of the paper was presented at a colloquium on 50 years of the school pact (2nd and 3rd December 1998, V.U.B.) and published in the resulting conference notes. Read more
If the world had any ends, British Honduras would certainly be one of them. It is not on the way from anywhere to anywhere else’ (Aldous Huxley 1984:21).
When I had to do fieldwork in the Caribbean region for my final research several years ago, someone from the department of cultural Anthropology in Utrecht in the Netherlands asked me why I didn’t go to Belize. My answer to his question was at that time quite significant: ‘Belize??’ I had no idea where it was and could not picture it at all.
Libraries that I visited in the Netherlands hardly provided any solace. Most of the books on Central America hardly mentioned Belize. Booth and Walker describe the position of the country as follows in ‘Understanding Central-America’: ‘Though Belize is technically Central America, that English-speaking microstate has a history that is fairly distinct from that of the other states in the region. At present this tiny republic, which only became formally independent from Great-Britain in 1981, does not figure significantly in the ‘Central American’ problem’ (1993:3).
The fact that Belize receives little attention in literature on Central America underlines the peripheral position of the country in this region. Some authors qualify it as part of the Caribbean world; others primarily see Belize as a member of the British Commonwealth. Besides that it is also seen as part of the Central American context. The Formation of a colonial Society (1977) by the English sociologist Nigel O. Bolland was the first scientific work on Belize that I was able to acquire. The Belize Guide (1989) by Paul Glassman provided me with a tourist orientated view of this ‘wonderland of strange people and things’ (Glassman 1989:1). Collecting sustaining literature was and remains a tiresome adventure. Slowly but surely my list of literature expanded.
My knowledge of the region was limited. Reactions from others also confirmed that Belize is a country with a slight reputation. For example, I still remember being corrected by someone from a travel agency. After asking the gentleman if a direct flight to Belize existed, he answered somewhat pityingly: ‘Sir, you must mean Benin´. In my circle of friends, Belize also turned out to be unheard of. The neighboring countries Guatemala and Mexico are better known. An important reason for this is that the media informs people of the most important happenings in these countries. This information is often clarified using maps of the area on which Guatemala and Mexico, but also Belize, are marked. Nonetheless, time and time again Belize turns out to be a country that does not appeal to the imagination.
The comments I heard from tourists coming in from Mexico or Guatemala are notable. ´This is a culture shock´, ´where are the Indians´, ´this doesn´t look at all like Central America´, ´it´s surprising how well you can get by with English here, that was not like that at all in Mexico´. Many of the tourists that come from Mexico quickly go through Belize city on their way to one of the islands off the coast of Belize where they relax for a few days before going to Guatemala. Most of the tourists coming into Belize from Tikal (Guatemala) spend a night in San Ignacio, comment on the fact that everything is so expensive, and quickly travel on to Chetumal (Mexico) the next day.
Belize is a country that lies hidden between two countries with a certain reputation. I do not really think that it is an exaggeration to state that Belize is something of a fictitious end of the world, as formulated by Huxley. In order to obtain an impression of the country, in which this research took place, the next section gives a general idea of the topographic and climatic characteristics. Besides that, the compilation of the population, the constitutional and political situation, the economic position, the religious context and the multi-lingual structure of the country are discussed successively. Furthermore, it is essential to provide an outline of the historic context in which the various ethnic groups in Belize have taken in their place. In other words: How has this country come to be so multi-ethnic?
Belize, A Central American Country on the Periphery
On 21 September 1981, the former British Honduras becomes independent. This date is the formal end of a process of independence that took seventeen years. In 1964, British Honduras of the time received the right to an internal self-government and in 1973 the name of the country was changed to Belize. With an area of 22,965 km2, Belize is the second smallest country in Central America. El Salvador is smaller (21,393 km2), but has considerably more inhabitants with it’s population of 5.889,000. According to the census of 1991, Belize has just 189,392 (Central Statistical Office 1992). This comes down to eight inhabitants per square kilometer, whereas El Salvador has 275 inhabitants per square kilometer. With that, the two countries are each other’s opposites in Central America, Belize is the most sparsely populated and El Salvador the most densely.
Belize borders on Mexico in the north, on Guatemala in the west and the south, and on the east the country borders on the Caribbean Sea. The area along the coast consists mostly of marshland with dense mangrove forests, mouths of rivers, lagoons and, every now and again, a sandy beach. Countless small and large rivers, that have played a crucial part in the infrastructure throughout the centuries, run through the country. Much of the wood chopped in the inland found and finds its way towards its destination at the coast via these waterways. It can rain abundantly in Belize in the months May to November, especially in the south, and then the waterways swell up to become rapid rivers.
The climatic conditions in Belize vary from tropical in the south to subtropical in the north. The climate is warm and the temperature varies between twenty-seven and forty degrees Celsius. It was especially the humidity, with an average of 85% in the southern part of the country that drew heavily on the physical condition of this researcher. The country officially has two seasons. The dry season, that lasts from November to June, and the wet season from June to November. During the wet season, tropical depressions regularly develop in the Caribbean region that reveal themselves as hurricanes. For this reason, this season is also called the hurricane season. This destructive force of nature has hit Belize several times in this century. The hurricanes of 1931, 1955 and 1961 have not failed to leave behind a trail of disaster.
The season in which it is relatively dryer than the rest of the year takes up a few months in the north (February to May), while in the south it only lasts several weeks (Dobson 1973:4). In fact, there is no telling what the weather will do in Belize. A Belizean friend of mine says the following on this matter: ‘We have two seasons here, a dry and a wet season; they generally take place on one and the same day’. Read more
October 2014. Although a large part of our content is written by academics, let us start out by saying that Rozenberg Quarterly is not an academic journal in the traditional sense.
We aim to show that science can and should support and advance journalism. In order to do this, we have abandoned several rules that are the norm in the world of academic journals. For instance, we do not limit ourselves to one subject nor do we involve ourselves with ranking-, citation- and review systems.
Academics do not live in an ivory tower. In the information society, science should play a supporting role as well as provide a service by delivering information. In our view, this should even be considered one of its main tasks: Make information widely available. Journalism has evolved from merely bringing the news to analyzing it. Science and academics can and should claim their place and expand their role in this process.
Rozenberg Quarterly aims to show that news analysis and investigative journalism benefit from academic articles and books. And it’s beneficial for all parties involved: Journalists gain access to extra (background) information and delve deeper, while academics are able to show that they do not function isolated and outside of mainstream society.
We started this website in 2011, as a platform to promote Rozenberg Publishers’ publications. After a year, we had the idea that it could evolve into a broader platform.
We made this change for several reasons. First of all, we thoroughly enjoyed the concept as it was crystalizing while we were working on it. The second reason is our conviction that we are doing something new in the world of publishing. Third, we want to show that the time has come to start sharing academic information in a different way than it has been traditionally. Last but certainly not least, we would like to contribute to social debates by making high quality material widely available.
In the past two years we have slowly rolled out this concept. We started by making informative, mostly academic articles and full books available for free. We also created separate, dedicated sections focused on relevant social issues, such as the consequences of urbanization, changing health care policies in the Netherlands, and the dilemmas facing the constitutional state.
Role of social sciences
The last few years have seen an attack on the humanities or social sciences. The neo-liberal society has little eye for the ‘soft’ side of science. Rozenberg Quarterly aims to show that society cannot function without social sciences. The world is not made up of statistics alone.
Role of academic publishers
In the world of academic publishing, the publisher plays a curious part. Academics have succumbed to the fact that the publisher puts a value on articles through review- and ranking systems. The fact that the publisher should provide a service seems to have been forgotten.
The open access culture
Since the open access culture (making academic material available for free) will determine the future of academic publishing, it is time to start looking at the publisher’s role. The Dutch government for instance is demanding that from 2016 all academic publications are available for free. However, as of yet there is no demand or intention to debate how that will work. The system, and thus the role of the publisher, has not changed (yet).
The role of science in society
Academic journals are usually very narrowly limited. For each segment of science, there is a journal. It appears that different disciplines should not be combined.
The argument that offering more than a part of something diminishes the quality of the offering, is a strange one. By setting up and using a good network it is possible to offer readers quality information from different disciplines. We choose a relatively broad selection of subjects in order to highlight the social function of science.
The information society
In today’s world, the sheer quantity of information available to readers is mind boggling, but not always easy to find or easy to read. We want to contribute to the media landscape by making unique information available in a clear, accessible and technologically simple manner in order to reach as many readers as possible.
Global & Local
Rozenberg Quarterly has made the choice to be bilingual, by offering texts in English as well as Dutch. Mostly English, in order to serve the world. But since we are based in the Netherlands, we have also created several Dutch sections. Subjects such as health care and the constitutional state play a part in all our lives. Our approach of these subjects, offering research and background information to the news, is another way of showing how science and society are intertwined.
The role of Rozenberg Quarterly
Rozenberg Quarterly sticks its neck out by showing that the combination of different disciplines creates a unique platform where journalism and science advance and promote each other.
The state of business
The success of Rozenberg Quarterly is quantifiable. In May 2014 we surpassed the 10,000 monthly visitors mark for the first time. It means that this year we will have over 100,000 visits to the website. We expect to double this number in 2015.
We have clear plans for the future. Whether we can realize those is mostly dependent on funding. Everything takes time and money, and so far we have mostly invested our own. Besides asking our readers for donations, we are researching the ways in which RQ could be funded with subsidies. We are debating whether or not we should offer parts of our content behind a pay wall, as well as the question whether to put ads on our site.
We are very happy with how Rozenberg Quarterly is evolving. At the time of writing the site has 256 pages (1536 articles in 17 sections/categories), monthly increasing visits and an increasing number of articles and full text books are submitted for publishing (which we would be happy to do). The fact that 54% of our readership is under the age of 35 is an interesting and fun detail. People are still reading and they will continue to do so.
The right to know – to access and share information, to organise, protest and speak out – is the foundation of a just society. Information rights were a driving principle in the struggle against apartheid, and at the centre of the democratic gains achieved in the 1990s.
Twenty years into South Africa’s democracy, these gains appear to be facing greater limits.
Climate of secrecy
At the heart of this is an emerging trend towards security-statist approaches to governance.[i] An expansive ‘national security’ mentality encroaches on democratic principles by stifling debate,undermining accountability and protecting the powerful from scrutiny.
The best-known embodiment of this securitystatist mentality is the Protection of State Information Bill (the Secrecy Bill), which sits on President Zuma’s desk, awaiting signature. Few laws have so focused the public mind on the problem of secrecy in our society and what appears to be a resurgence of the ‘securocrats’.
But the Bill may merely be a symptom of a broader climate of secrecy and securitisation:
– The use of secrecy to shield political actors, in particular President Zuma, from embarrassment and accountability;
– Increasing limitations on protest, with an extraordinary spike in police violence and growing signs of criminalisation of protest;
– Apparent increase in the use of state-security policies such as the National Key Points Act;
– Lack of democratic oversight of surveillance tools which are vulnerable to abuse.
Ordinary people, ordinary secrets
Secrecy is not only about the political machinations of major institutions. At the heart of possibly every grassroots struggle for social, economic or environmental justice, there is a need for information. This is often basic information about bread-and-butter issues, which people need in order to exercise control over their own lives. Here we see worrying signs of the obstacles to accessing information:
– Access to information mechanisms are failing;
– There is too little proactive release of information;
– The transparency obligations of the private sector, particularly in industries with a serious environmental impact, are largely overlooked. Read more