A few things on my mind

Archive for January 2016

BlogSo 2016 kicked off with a bang – Penny Sparrow causing much fuss in the year that everyone hoped would be the year of great things to come – or maybe it’s just me who was excited about 2016 and its prospects.

In any case, the reaction to Penny Sparrow had me thinking – as most things do. In illustrating my point, I wanted to share my experience as a tweenie. By the age of 12, I was technically an orphan. My dad and mom died when I was six and 12 respectively. As my siblings were still in high school and first year of university, I was shipped off to live with my favourite aunt – my dad’s youngest sister. Growing up I used to love her visits – she spoiled me rotten – the mother I always wanted. So when I had to be shipped off to her, as devastated by mom’s passing, it wasn’t so bad since I got to live with someone I actually loved.

I was 13 and didn’t realise how badly I needed a mother at that time. While I had all the comforts of a normal family life, my aunt had her own two kids. I quickly realised that living with someone who is not your real mother, and has children of her own, has it challenges. I spent the next five years of my life hoping that she would claim me as hers. For example, in the early stages of our living together, her friends would visit and would say “Oh this is your daughter!” knowing very well that I wasn’t her biological child – they were just trying to make me feel included; but she was always quick to point out that I wasn’t.

It was never malicious, but most of the time, especially because of the speed that they were corrected on what she knew they knew, it felt me wanting. But most importantly, it hurt tremendously, especially because at that point I wanted so badly to belong – or for her to even claim me as one of her own. But a grew up, moved out the house and finally after many years of therapy, came to understand that as much as she had provided a roof over my head, it did not automatically make her my mother.

So what the hell does that have to do with Penny Sparrow and every ‘racists’ outed in the past few weeks? We need to get to the root of why we continue to take such an offense with racists/people who don’t want us. Please don’t misunderstand my lack of understanding of racism. I spent a good few years in a corporate environment where I got paid less my peers, was never really good enough – and when I tried to claim my space in their business – I got told that “I was getting too big for my boots”.

This morning I listened to Bob Mabena congratulating Ster Kinekor’s first black CEO. I am not hating, congratulations to Wanda Matandela. To have made it to the top seat in their world is an achievement, I guess. Like many of us who walk the corridors of corporate South Africa, we know that Wanda is CEO as a result, he will have a Board that he will report to, and his transformation vision will not be at the shareholders demise.

On the same show, one of the interviewees was someone from a marketing industry who was speaking about white people being curious and understanding us so they can sell their products – something he highlighted that was not happening but would be great if they did. Fact of the matter is, despite their lack of curiosity about us, we still consume their products.

Listening to that show this morning, I realised, that we are trying so hard to be claimed and to belong. And when we are not, our feelings get hurt, like that 13 year old I was telling you about.

Imagine if the interview on Kaya this morning was with Wanda Matandela, the first CEO of a black owned and run cinema. I for one am tired of trying to find a spot in their little kingdoms – there are too many of us capable black people to be chopping at the bits of one seat every decade.

How about we start building our own empires where the transformation we so desire would be at our design. For example, according to Census 2011, the country’s population stands at 51.77, with Africans in the majority, making up 79.2% of the population.

Based on the above, quick maths says we have 40 odd million people that if we created our own economy, our own businesses, we would be able to the provide jobs and lives our people so deserve. All it needs, in agreement with Mr Matandela, is to work as a collective. If at this moment, we took our money and spent with the people who are remotely interested in us, we would create an economy to be reckoned with and then everyone would engage on free will – not some form of obligation.