By Tilo ngwana Rashaka
Prostitutionalisation of a destitute black African young girl is probably the best line to summarize the current Generations’ story line unfolding around Phenyo, Dineo and her half sister, 22 year old Zimbini.
According to online Oxford dictionary, a prostitute is “a person, typically a woman, who engages in sex for payment.”
Without any reasonable doubt, unfortunately, Zimbini can be thought of as a prostitute. What informs my conclusion, drawing from the definition cited above, is that Zimbini is poised to seduce phenyo and subsequently jump into bed with him in return for Dineo settling the hospital charges for Zimbini’s ailing mother.
So Zimbini engages in a sexual activity with Phenyo and then Dineo pays her back (well, at least indirectly)? Tell me that’s not prostitution? The problem with Generations is that the soap opera holds no moral respect for our poor African people. They apply Eurocentric and colonial mentality when writing stories about poor Africans.
Because it may take me forever to conclude this article, I’m not going to do a Critical Discourse Analysis of the character’s story lines but the representation of poor people in the soapie is unfortunately appalling, demeaning and degrading their humanity and pride.
Characters that are arguably from poor backgrounds, I’ll also count in the previous characters, Choppa, Queen, Sindi, Ruby, Zimbini, Khethiwe, Dineo and others, their successes are hampered by their social, economic and cultural backgrounds. For them to become the movers and shakers in their communities, one way or another they have to associate themselves with the have’s and the better off’s. Ordinarily on their own they are failure.
Dineo, for example, comes from a poor shebeen background and how she was introduced into the business fraternity was through her ex rich sugar husband, Kenneth Mashaba.
Mam Ruby is preoccupied with Dineo remaining a Dlomo forever because of the socio-economic status of the family. If Dineo holds on to the Dlomo name, that too gives Ruby a status in her community.
Queen is nothing without the Moroka’s. Almost all the riches and wealth she enjoy today are the result of her marrying into the Moroka family. Her gambling saga to pay off Prince’s school funds.
Zimbini has to commit adultery to save her mother who suffers from cancer. When Sindi was pregnant, she agreed (not sure if it was willingly or through coercion) to give away her baby for money. The baby was going to be adopted by Karabo through a bogus white adoption agent.
Again, the story line of the girl from the shelter whom Dineo lied to about wanting to write a story for Gloss agreed to give away her baby to Dineo’s “friend” for R20 000. All these adoption story lines give an impression that black youth are directionless, that all they think about is sex, fall pregnant and then give away their babies for money. If you analyse the situation closely, one might arrive at a conclusion that all is nothing but a commodification of pregnancy by poor black girls from townships and rural areas.
Sarah Ives (2007: 165) asserts that “Generations depicts a society obsessed with power and money” and I’m starting to agree with her. Joyti Mistry from University of the Witwatersrand as quoted in Ives’ paper, argues that Generations’ gives “blacks a sense of identity and pride”. Although that is partially true, but unfortunately I cannot share her sentiment when it comes to the representation of poor black Africans, especially women.
Let’s have a debate, what do you think?