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Please Note: The editor of White Refugee blog is a member of the Ecology of Peace culture.

Summary of Ecology of Peace Problem Solving: The problems of poverty, unemployment, war, crime, violence, food shortages, food price increases, inflation, police brutality, political instability, loss of civil rights, vanishing species, garbage and pollution, urban sprawl, traffic jams, toxic waste, racism, sexism, Nazism, Islamism, feminism, Zionism etc; are the ecological overshoot consequences of humans living in accordance to a Masonic War is Peace international law social contract that provides humans the ‘right to breed and consume’ with total disregard for ecological carrying capacity limits.

Ecology of Peace factual reality: 1. Earth is not flat; 2. Resources are finite; 3. When humans breed or consume above ecological carrying capacity limits, it results in resource conflict; 4. If individuals, families, tribes, races, religions, and/or nations want to reduce class, racial and/or religious local, national and international resource war conflict; they should cooperate to implement an Ecology of Peace international law social contract that restricts all the worlds citizens to breed and consume below ecological carrying capacity limits; to sustainably protect and conserve natural resources.

EoP v WiP NWO negotiations are documented at MILED Clerk Notice.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nongoloza's Children: WC Prison Gangs [3/5]: The functions of violence II—Making men (and not women)

Nongoloza's Children: W. Cape Prison Gangs


Chapter 1:
» » Nongoloza and Kilikijan

Chapter 2:
» » The functions of violence I—Making men (and not children)

Chapter 3:
» » The functions of violence II—Making men (and not women)

Chapter 4:
» » Prison on the streets, the streets in prison

Chapter 5:
» » Warders and gangs

Nongoloza's Children: Western Cape prison gangs during and after apartheid

by Johnny Steinberg

Chapter 3: The functions of violence II—Making men (and not women)

"It was my experience, as a soldier," Gore Vidal comments dryly of his sexual adventures in the U.S. Army during World War II, "that just about everyone, either actively or passively, was available under the right circumstances. Certainly, things were pretty open in the Pacific Islands, where on one, no doubt, mythical island an entire marine division paired off… Perfectly 'normal' young men," Vidal continues, "placed outside the usual round of family and work, will run riot with each other."33

For the past century, South African prisoners—placed outside the usual round of family and work—have indeed been running riot with one another. What has haunted them is not so much the sex itself, but an ambiguity that comes with the sex—the figure who is both a bandit and a passive sexual partner. It would be no exaggeration to say that sexual politics behind bars is devoted almost entirely to the (impossible) task of drawing a bold line between bandits and "women". The figure who is both a bandit and a woman is, it seems, unthinkable. He has to be erased in order to re-establish the order of things. Successive generations of inmates have poured their imaginative resources into making him invisible. They have erected a vast edifice of symbols, narrative and myth to do so.

At the centre of these symbols, narratives and myths is the figure of Magubane. He is the Number gangs' worst fear—the man who is also a woman, the bandit who parts his legs for other bandits. It is the ambiguity he represents that needs to be erased.

When I say "worst fear" I am not using hyperbole. Notice how the story of Magubane hijacks the Nongoloza myth and takes it places it was never meant to go. It began as a tale about the initiation of a group of anti-colonial rebels: they became bandits to defend themselves and their people from the whites' gold mines. Yet, no sooner has the band formed than it splits acrimoniously over whether bandits can sleep with one another. From now on, the heart of the story is no longer about fighting whites: it is consumed by the question of sex. Moreover, the quarrel can never be resolved: that much is built into the structure of the story. There was a man who knew right from wrong in this matter—Po—but he is dead. There was a document of founding principles, but half of it has been washed down the river. This is, perhaps, a begrudging acknowledgment that the problem is both fundamental to prison life and irresolvable, that it will never go away.

How do the gangs deal with Magubane, and thus with the question of sex among ndotas? Each gang reinterprets the Nongoloza myth privately and uses it to spread rumours about the other gangs. Each gang acknowledges that Magubane exists, but insists that he lives there, among that gang, not with us. So many of the fights and skirmishes between the gangs have boiled down to a single accusation: "You are Magubane."

The 27s and 26s insist that Magubane inhabits the silver line of the 28s. They say that the sole, or at very least the primary, function of silver-line officers is to serve as concubines for the gold line, for the soldiers. They themselves, the 26s and 27s claim, abstain entirely from sex when they are in prison.

28s—in particular silver-line 28s—deny this vociferously. They say that ndotas cannot have sex with one another, and that silver and gold-line officers are all ndotas. Rather, they argue, all senior officers, including senior silver-line officers, are permitted to have sex, but not with fellow 28s; they have sex with "sex sons". A sex son is a frans who lives among the 28s and sleeps alongside probationers in the silver line. But he is not an ndota. He will never be initiated. He will never learn about the Nongoloza myth, or about the rules and lore of the 28s. He is, they say, a sort of a prostitute. He is too weak to survive in jail on his own strength, so he turns to the 28s for protection, and in exchange he gives them sex.

But even this—sex between a 28 ndota and a sex son—is highly ritualised and meticulously clothed in meaning. The 28s consider themselves the children of Nongoloza, and as such they see themselves as Zulus—in war, in justice and in sex. In regard to sex, the relationship between an ndota and his sex son is understood as the relationship between a young, unmarried Zulu warrior and a Zulu maiden:
You know among the Zulus [a gold-line 28 told me], a young warrior and the girl he will marry are allowed to have sex before they marry, but only through the thighs, never penetration. Only after the wedding are they allowed to have real sex. It is the same with a sex son and an ndota. At night, the Silver Two takes the sex son to the ndota who has chosen him, say the Fyland. The Fyland has sex with him under the blankets, but it has to be face-to-face, never from behind, in order to show that they are having thigh sex, not penetration. At any point during the night, the judge is allowed to come to the Fyland's bed and lift the blanket. If he finds they are not face-to-face, the Fyland faces serious charges. His punishment is usually gang rape. And after that he is finished: because an ndota who has been raped is no longer an ndota.

Most 28s in the Western Cape are coloured men. They have made themselves into Zulus for the purpose of having sex with other men. Zuluness—a culture that many of them think of with superstitious distaste when they are on the outside—is embraced in prison because its strangeness helps them to set aside their own ambivalence towards what they are doing. In jail, they are Zulu men. They are having sex with Zulu maidens, with girls, through the thighs, the way they imagine Nongoloza and his forebears did. The line distinguishing men from women, the active from the passive partner, is drawn repeatedly, obsessively. To be the active partner on must be an ndota. In other words, one has to stab, one has to be beaten to a pulp without crying out, one has to sit in a dank cell for weeks and eat a saltless diet, one has to emerge from agter die berge strong. To be a woman, one must be nothing: a being who can never join the Number, who must walk barefoot and never leave the cell without permission, who must not conduct business in the public world of the prison. And as a reminder that things are not really so, that she is indeed a man, she must never be penetrated. There can be no real consummation.

Here, then, is another function of the violence of the initiation ritual. The first function, I argued in the last chapter, was to adjust to the infantilisation that attends on inmate experience: the ndota is a man and not a child. The second function is to make inmates men, rather than women. It is an attempt to rid the jails of that ambiguous figure who is a bandit and also a woman. So obsessive is the attempt to draw a line between the two that inmates end up engaging in the most vicious parody of the misogynist relationship between a man and woman on the outside. The active partner is steeped in violence; he is also the archetypal agent. The passive partner has been stripped of all agency—he is a helpless dependent.

The 26 and 27 understanding of the 28s—that the silver line serves the sexual needs of the gold line—is so ubiquitous, so widely believed, that at first I assumed it must be true.34 At first I thought that the silver-line officers who told me otherwise were merely concealing their shame. Yet the story is considerably more complex than that. The senior silver officers, at any rate, are undoubtedly not concubines; indeed, their role in the gang is quite an extraordinary one. There exists a sharp division of labour between the senior officers of the gold and silver lines. At one level this division is between intellectual work and the work of warfare. At another it is between the will to life and the will to kill. Here is a 28 silver-line officer's account of the relationship between the gold and the silver line.
We think of ourselves as Zulus, because our father, Nongoloza, was a Zulu. Think of a Zulu kraal, of how it is organised. The soldiers are not in the heart of the kraal. They are at the outposts, guarding the centre. That is the gold line. At the heart of the kraal are its brains, its memory, its very soul. That's us: the silver line. We are the Number, the keeper of its rules and its history. The soldiers are not the Number—they are its protector, its outer shield. When you recruit a soldier, you are not looking for a brain. You are looking for an aggressive maniac who acts before he thinks, someone who will put his life on the line instinctively, without asking questions.

This is, of course, a jaundiced position, one filled with silver-line chauvinism. Stripped of the chauvinism, however, it does in fact chime with the actual division of labour between gold and silver. The top two positions in the silver line, for instance—the mtshali and the nyangi—tell an interesting tale. The mtshali is entrusted with Rooiland's skin, and thus with the rules and the sacred history of the 28s. Indeed, he warehouses all the gang's accoutrements: its knives, its bayonets and its uniforms. He does so figuratively, rather than literally. Rooiland's skin is, of course, imaginary, as are the uniforms. But what this means materially is that nobody steps into his imaginary uniform, and thus his new rank, without the sanction of the silver line's leader; nor can soldiers arm themselves without his approval. And the nyangi, although not himself a soldier, is the one who inspects and issues weapons to the combatants in the gold line. Any soldier who uses a knife that has not passed through the hands of the nyangi has committed a crime. So the silver line is clearly a great deal more than a group of concubines—the gang can take neither judicial nor military action without its approval.

The top two positions in the gold line, by contrast—the judge and the general—are the man of the gallows and the man of war respectively. The judge is the member of the 12-man court that passes sentence. But he cannot pass a sentence without deferring to the judicial knowledge of the mtshali, to the rules on Rooiland's skin. The general is the leader of the combatants. It is said that he spends his days over a furnace shaping red-hot weapons with his anvil. But he cannot issue the weapons he has forged without the sanction of the doctor.

More interesting, perhaps, is the role of the silver line in the Twelve Points, the highest judicial structure of the gang, and the only one empowered to sentence an offending 28 to death. When the Twelve Points meets to decide a case, the judge, the most senior officer in the gold line, is the first to speak: he argues for a conviction. The mtshali, the most senior member of the silver line, rebuts him with an argument for acquittal. Then the forum debates the two positions. The judge ends the discussion by announcing the verdict. He then suggests a sentence. If the sentence is death, the mtshali immediately stands up and begins an argument in mitigation. The second most severe sentence in the 28s is a "band"—gang rape. The mtshali will generally argue that the death sentence be commuted to a "band".

Then everyone, save the general and the mtshali, votes. If five vote for death and five for a lesser sentence, the mtshali casts his deciding vote and the accused's life is saved. The judge accepts that his recommended sentence has been overruled. If those who vote for death are in the majority, the mtshali registers his protest by refusing to vote at all.

At this point—once the accused has been sentenced to death by a majority vote—the Goliat-one—the lowest-ranking silver-line member of the Twelve Points—steps in to save his life. He strips off all his clothes and runs naked round the edge of the Twelve Points; as he does so, he lets out a scream, in the most plaintive and haunting voice he can muster, pleading for mercy.

"The Goliat-one," a 28 told me, "is called The Man of the Light, the one who shines a light into the darkness of the 28s. To sentence somebody to death is a deed of blackness. The Number must ask itself: 'How did we get ourselves into this position? Have we become lost in the darkness?' Hearing the cry of the Goliat-one brings us back to the light. And if that does not work, if the hearts of the Twelve Points are not stirred by the Goliat-one, then the accused must be executed."

The accused is not present at the trial. He is not informed of his fate. After sentence is passed, word is whispered down the ranks of the gold line. Two or three rank-and-file soldiers are tasked with performing the execution. The most common method is to approach the accused in the middle of the night, while he is sleeping, and to suffocate him with a pillow.

"Which are the capital crimes?" I ask several 28s.

"Informing for the boere," they all reply, "and raping a fellow 28."

Interpreting the Twelve Points via its rituals, and in particular via the division of labour between its gold and silver members, it appears less a law court than a representation of an organism's unconscious life. The judge is compelled to kill, the mtshali to save. The accused's circumstances seem incidental—his case is merely an occasion for the gang to express its rival instincts. It is as if the entire structure of the gang is a device to render this conflict corporeal, to enact it on a physical stage.

The silver line appears to be the gang's life force, its instinct for preservation, and it is eternally pitted against the death drive represented by the general in the gold line. The mtshali is the life force's intellect, its capacity to reason. The Goliat-one is its raw, naked heart: his anguished scream expresses the desperate urgency of the desire to preserve, the unspeakable horror of death. The relationship between gold and silver takes on the form of an existential rivalry, a battle over life and death.

So much for the stories that the 26s and 27s whisper about the 28s, and the counter-stories the 28s tell in their defence. What do the 28s say about sex in the 26s and 27s?

As with so many others matters, they refer back to the Nongoloza myth. Only, they give it their own private ending.

The story begins with a question. What happened to Magubane? Recall that after Kilikijan found Nongoloza making love to Magubane under a cowhide, the bandits split into two groups. Magubane changed allegiances. He went with Nongoloza's group, making it eight, leaving Kilikijan with seven.

Both sides agree what happened next. Nongoloza's men continued their work of robbery and plunder for some time. Magubane stayed with them a while, just long enough to win their trust. Then he used the trust he had earned to con them. He volunteered the responsibility of safekeeping a large proportion of their booty, and then absconded with it and disappeared.

That much the 26s, 27s and 28s agree upon. But the 28s add a final twist to the story. "What happened to Magubane after he absconded?" they ask. "Where did he go? Why does he never appear in the story again?"

They smile cynically. "Remember Grey," they continue, "the founder of the 26s, the leader of the six men Kilikijan found in Point Prison. What did Grey do? He made money by conning and tricking. Isn't that exactly what Magubane did to the 28s?"

Then they shrug and say no more. The silence finishes the story: Grey is Magubane. The 26s break their own taboo. They have sex with men.

Anyone who has served time in a 26-dominated cell knows that this is true. It is barely concealed. What is interesting, though, is the way the 26s explain it away.

Vincent Shabangu, the activist convicted of public violence whom I quoted in Chapter 1, spent several months in a 26-dominated cell in Pollsmoor's maximum-security jail during the course of 1986. He told me the following story.

"I was with the 26s on C section for a while, and then I was put in isolation because I was studying. In isolation, I met two other guys who had been convicted of public violence. One was called Gerald.35 I was moved to isolation on a Friday afternoon; he was moved on the same Friday night. It seemed that something terrible had happened to him on C section. He cried all weekend. He was really frightened. I coached him. I told him that if he keeps to his faith, he'd be okay.

"Unfortunately, I soon discovered, he had been drawn in. He had become a wyfie to feel safe."

"A wyfie in C section?" I asked. "A 26's wyfie?

"Yip. Even though they said they did not have wyfies. Even though they claimed that only the 28s have sex. They all had wyfies. Let me tell you how I found out about Gerald. The 26 general in C section decided that there were certain weekends when Gerald must go to his cell to watch movies. One Sunday, a warder who works in C section came round to fetch Gerald, and I said I also wanted to go and watch a movie. Why shouldn't I be allowed to go too? When I went, I saw they were making Gerald a special bed next to the general's bed. It was so strange to see. They were making preparations for the general to have sex with him. And it wasn't just Gerald. Two other activists also became wyfies to 26s. If you are not strong, if you are not well prepared, they corrupt your mind, get into your mind."

"But the 26s and 27s hate the 28s," I say. "And they hate them because the 28s have sex."

"Yes," he says with excitement. "They claim they are not having sex with the guys. They don't call them wyfies. I do. They claim they are protecting the young guys from the 28s. They say: 'Look at that ndota from the 28s. His eyes are all over you. You need me to protect you from him.' They even said to me, right at the beginning: 'Don't mix with 28s. If they get a chance, they will rape you.' But that is exactly what the 26s were doing. They have the young ones with them. They are having sex with them.

"And let me tell you something interesting. For a one-week period, just before I was put in isolation to study, I was taken to E section—the 28 section of the prison. What was happening in the 28 section was different. There was a different atmosphere. There was sex happening there too, but you didn't feel frightened at night. You would go to sleep in your little corner and know you were safe. Not in C section, not with the 26s. There, things were unpredictable. They could decide to do things in the middle of the night.

"I told the 28s. I said, 'On C section, the 26s say the youngsters have to be protected against you.' They laughed. They said: 'The 26s are hypocrites: the youngsters need to be protected against them, not us.'"

Everybody accuses everybody else of being Mugabane. "Yes, Magubane is here, but not with us. He is with them." Yet Magubane is everywhere—in the 26s, 27s and 28s. In the following section I show that even in the 28s, who have managed the dilemma of homoerotic sex far better than the other two gangs, the task of constantly retracing the boundary between men and women, the initiated and the passive, is an uphill battle.

Number-gang violence, I have argued thus far, performs at least three critical functions. First, it makes inmates into men, rather than boys. Second, it is used to patrol the boundaries of gang space against warders, the boundaries within which men can be men. And, thirdly, it divides inmates into men and women, thus masking the intolerable ambivalence of the bandit who is also a passive sexual partner.

In the previous chapter, I pointed out that the violence to which ndotas subject themselves is as critical in the making of men as the violence they commit. The beatings, the solitary confinement—these are pivotal in the forging of Number-gang virtues. The violence to which they subject themselves is predictable and ritual, and they court it openly, but it is severe nonetheless: broken bones, permanent scars. In the previous chapter, I raised, but did not answer, a question: is the price of making men too high? Are the funds of ndotas' stoical indifference to physical pain limitless? In this section, I explore these questions.

Something of great import happened in the Number gangs of the Western Cape in the late 1980s: they "closed their blood lines". In other words, they decided they would no longer stab.

The story is a murky one. There is no written record of what happened, as far as I know, only hundreds of memories. Each ndota I have interviewed tells a rival tale: where and when the decision was taken, how it spread so quickly and, above all, why it happened. It is probably too late for a viable and comprehensive account to be written now. A decade and a half has passed and the memories of veteran ndotas, it seems, grow less reliable with time.

In any event, it was nothing less than a cataclysmic decision. To stab, and to be subjected to violence and deprivation in the wake of stabbing, was the centrepiece in the initiation process. It animated the world behind bars, providing it with its fundamental meaning.

Why did it happen? I don't know. Some of it may have had to do with the changing relationship between prison gangs and street gangs, which I discuss in the following chapter. Some of it may have had to do with changing conditions of imprisonment. If so, I have struggled to put my finger on what, precisely, changed: the early 1990s would be characterised by widespread uncertainty and far-reaching reform in the ranks of the prisons service, but not the late 1980s.36

There is one common denominator in ndotas' accounts of the closing of the blood lines: the decision to stop taking blood was made by the soldiers themselves, by those whose business it was to stab, and then to be punished by the authorities for stabbing. Who were they? Two groups, primarily. First, the 27s, whose job was both to defend the 26s and to "right wrongs" between the 26s and the 28s by taking blood. Second, the soldier line of the 28s, who used violence both to defend the gang from attack and to draw the authorities' attention to poor prison conditions.37 In other words, it appears that the decision was taken by those in the firing line, those who had to endure, in the course of their business, submission to violence.

Indeed, the position of the 27s has always seemed puzzling, almost unfathomable. I said earlier that the virtues instilled by initiation are restraint, stoicism, selfless solidarity. The very fabric of the Number gangs is permeated by personal denial. But in the 26s and 28s, this denial is offset by carefully circumscribed forms of excess. The 26s are accumulators of wealth—one is rewarded by material comforts. And a soldier in the 28s is rewarded by creature comforts. Indeed, the gang says as much. A soldier's catamite, the 28s say, is his reward for going to battle.

But the 27 is truly a Spartan figure. There is no reward for him other than the power and mystique of his position. He is not allowed sex and he does not engage in commerce. Aside from learning the law of all three gangs, his sole function is to stab. He thus commits himself to a life in prison as his time escalates for the serial crimes he commits on the inside. And, through the course of his career, his body is subjected to serial battering. Of all the positions in the gangs, he is the impossible figure.

And indeed, it appears from the records of commissions of enquiry, court cases and warders' testimony, that 27s have often, from the earliest times, been on the brink of extinction.38 It also appears, from inmate testimony, that there have always been pretenders who have attempted by guile and finesse to occupy the place of the 27s without earning it.

In any event, it is interesting that all 30 or so of the veterans I interviewed agreed that it was the soldiers themselves who instigated the closing of the blood lines. According to a 26 with a flair for telling stories:
It was the 27s who did it. You had to have been there and seen them to understand why. They had been too badly fucked up. Some were on crutches; others were so damaged on the inside that they couldn't eat properly. Others were just miserable inside their heads. They were a sorry bunch. They had to do it to keep their own dignity.

A silver-line 28 told me that:
The soldiers in the 28s just laid down their arms. Their work was too tough for them. They couldn't handle the carry-ons and the one-ones. Too many of them were crying. Too many of them were nursing their wounds. They destroyed the Number because they lost their courage.

Whatever the reasons, the closing of the blood lines caused havoc. Some time in 1987, either just after or at the time of the decision to stop ritual stabbing, a province-wide conflict erupted between the silver and gold lines of the 28s. Once again, the circumstances are murky. It appears that the conflict began in Victor Verster Prison and soon spread to prisons throughout the Western Cape. The veteran 28s I interviewed give rival versions of why the war started. Some say that the silver line rebelled against the decision to end ritual stabbing. "The soldiers weren't soldiers anymore," a silver-line 28 told me. "They were not doing their job. They were not defending the camp. So they were useless to the camp. We declared war against them because we wanted to overthrow them."

According to others, it was the issue of food that precipitated the conflict. There was an old rule in the 28s. The deprivations the gold line had to suffer went beyond subjection to ritual violence. They were also "not allowed to get fat". They were not allowed to eat meat—they could only have the bones. They weren't allowed to eat eggs—they had to give their eggs to the silver line. No sugar in their porridge; they had to have bitter porridge. No sugar in their coffee.

"Now that we had stopped taking blood," a gold-line 28 who was serving at Victor Verster at the time told me, "we demanded that we should eat: the meat on the bones, eggs, sugar. It was time for the silvers to start sharing the food. They said: 'No. The meat and eggs are ours.' So we thought: 'Fine. We will do to them what they have been doing to us. Soldiers started guarding the food trays. We wouldn't let the silvers near the food. We were starving them. For three days, they did not eat. Then they declared war on us."

The third explanation for the conflict is perhaps the most interesting. According to some, soon after the decision to end ritual stabbing, low-ranking soldiers began raping low-ranking silvers. Senior silver officers complained to senior gold-line officers, presuming that the junior soldiers would be punished. Instead, the gold line stood by and did nothing. The silver line then declared war.

(It is possible—although this is highly speculative—that soldiers had always had sex with junior silvers, despite the prohibition; that it was only after the decision to end ritual stabbing that the silver line began prohibiting sex with its junior members. In other words, it is possible that it is only once men were no longer men, so to speak, that senior silver-line officers began objecting to soldiers having sex with junior silvers.)

Whatever the causes of the conflict, there is consensus among those I interviewed about the outcome. The silver line trounced the gold; the soldiers were beaten by the non-combatants. Within months, the conflict was over. "The hospital beds were filled with 28 soldiers," a gold-line 28 told me. "Some of us were walking round with bandages on our heads. Some had broken limbs. I myself had a broken collarbone. We said to the silvers, 'Okay, that's enough. What do you want?"

What the silvers wanted, according to the legend that survives today, is even more extraordinary.
We closed down the gold line [a silver-line officer told me]. And we vowed that it would never open again. We threw the soldiers out of their offices. We chose people from our own ranks and filled the gold line with them "just for the minute".39 We said that nobody would ever have to take blood to join our camp again.

And then we did something really stupid, something so corrupt and evil that we are still living with the consequences today. We changed the initiation rules. We said that from now on, everyone who joins the 28s must have a "babba". In other words, the ndota who trains you has sex with you. To join the 28s, you have to be a sex son first. And so it happened. The sex sons became 28s.

I say "according to the legend that survives today" because the real story—untainted by the distortions of memory and probably lost forever now—is surely a good deal more complex than this. It is unlikely that initiation into the 28s through sex occurred as an event, as a single rupture. It is much more likely that the rumours the 26s and 27s tell about the 28s have always contained an element of truth, that there has always been a degree of ambiguity in regard to how one joins the 28s.40

Nonetheless, even as a product of memory, the story is a telling one. For their entire inmate careers, 28s had had to withstand jibing and rumours from the other gangs—a kind of whispering campaign. They had been told that, no matter what they said in rebuttal, they were the ones who had sex with one another. Now, in the aftermath of a bitter conflict, the 28s make real the very rumours against which they have railed. They institute as law the idea that one must become a passive sexual partner to join the gang.

There are many things to be said about this strange story. One of those things, surely, is this: the moment the blood line closed—in other words, the moment the manufacturing of men ceased—so the line dividing men from women was erased. The entire edifice of 28 myth was a careful, painstaking attempt to separate ndotas from "women". Now, it all fell apart. With the new form of initiation, women and ndotas began to become indistinguishable.

In the 1990s, the blood lines never really reopened, but they never really closed either. They never reopened in the sense that most inmates today who are recognised as soldiers did not stab to acquire their positions. According to the veterans—those who cut their teeth in the 1970s and 1980s—1990s soldiers are mere boys: they are soldiers "just for the minute". Nonetheless, whenever there is a crisis of authority in the gangs, whenever two men or groups tussle for power, the knives are taken out again. All of a sudden, the question of who is "meat and blood" and who "just for the minute" becomes salient. In others words, the lost tradition is shored up whenever there is a legitimacy crisis.

But to understand the word of the 1990s and 2000s in its proper context, it is necessary to turn to the relationship between street gangs and prison gangs. This relationship underwent something of a revolution in the early 1990s, changing the face of both the prison cells and the streets forever.

» » » » [CSVR (PDF)]

Nongoloza's Children: W. Cape Prison Gangs: Introduction
» » 1: Nongoloza and Kilikijan
» » 2: The functions of violence I—Making men (and not children)
» » 3: The functions of violence II—Making men (and not women)
» » 4: Prison on the streets, the streets in prison
» » 5: Warders and gangs


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Peak Non-Renewable Resources = END:CIV Scarcity Future
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