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Her Name Was Reeva Steenkamp

From yesterday’s Evening Standard:

Below are the rough notes Miss Steenkamp made for the speech at Sandown High School, a co-educational government school.  They are reproduced exactly as she wrote them.

“PE” stands for Port Elizabeth, the town where Miss Steenkamp grew up. “Jozi” is Johannesburg.

Who received flowers/chocolates/cards/messages/tweets/etc today (February 14) for valentines day.

Tell them what I received, make a small joke about this. And then tell them that receiving those things is very special but not receiving anything doesn’t define you as a person or make you less valued!!!

1. I was raised on a small farm just outside of Cape Town. In a way I was blessed and privileged to be away from the pressures of city life and I grew up to appreciate the simpler things above the superficial.

2. I will chat about life on the farm, having no money but being blessed with amazing parents who never allowed me to be aware of my circumstances. Some “looking back now” points somewhere after this would fit in.

3. After moving to PE and deciding to study Law despite our financial situation, I worked hard to be acknowledged as one of the top 15% academics at university so that my studies could be 80% covered by bursaries and I worked to pay off the rest.

4. I broke my back towards the end of varsity. Learnt mobility again and made a massive life decision with regards to my career. I will elaborate on this part of my journey.

5. I was in an abusive relationship at the same time (his mother used to abuse him) and all together these factors encouraged my move to Jozi.

6. Despite my height disadvantage and the difficulty in general of breaking into the modeling industry, I put my head down and worked hard towards my dream.

7. I lost a lot of self worth during my last year in PE before I moved to Jozi and it took some serious soul searching to remind myself of my value in this world.

8. Being loved by others, although an amazing feeling to have the appreciation of others, does not define your place in the world.

9. Accept who you are. Acknowledge your absolute “CAN DOS” in life and work on your “MAYBES” so that you can be a better person for the ultimate upliftment of those around you.

10. No matter how many people say that they “love” you, if you do not love your person then you will never step outside of the physical you. The physical you can only do so much if your mental you is lost inside of all the confusion.

11. Be brave. Always see the positive. Make your voice heard. Your physical seen. And the presence of your mental you felt. Its that culmination of your person that will leave a legacy and uplift.

12. I hope that you have the most amazing Valentines Day and that you are spoilt with love and roses and chocolates. Go home and tell your parents, siblings, neighbours that they are appreciated.

You will go to bed with a happy heart and open mind for the future.

Her name was Reeva Steenkamp.

This is a Twitter trend and a general feeling which deserves more attention. Steenkamp was a successful professional in her own right, and ought to remain the true tragedy here.

Instead, she is being consciously anonymised by parts of the media that sees her as almost irrelevant, tangential to the main narrative about the personal journey of a disabled athlete.

The Sun published a picture of Steenkamp in a bikini, conscious that this would raise sales for the day – nevermind appropriate decency and respect.

The Guardian published an article by Justice Malala which failed to name Steenkamp, in a piece  about Pistorius as a fallen hero. But then, the Guardian does have a good article about her life, and a great piece by Marina Hyde about The Sun.

Michael Rosenberg fails to name her in Sports Illustrated, whereas David Epstein discussed in SI what effect the killing would have upon Pistorius’ legacy.

The Independent today:

 Whatever the case, while not forgetting the sorrow and pain of Reeva Steenkamp’s family, Pistorius is, like Othello, a tragic hero.

I watched a bit of The Last Leg, a comedy programme on Channel 4, last night, and they wisely decided not to make jokes about Pistorius throughout the programme. They said the situation was devastating, and that if Pistorius had committed murder, he had ‘let us down’.

But Reeva Steenkamp’s name was not mentioned.