A few things on my mind

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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.

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storm

Today I heard an interesting explanation of spirituality. Being in touch with your spirituality is knowing that your existence is meaningless without a meaningful existence of those around you. And all the pieces just seemed to fall into place. This was the reason why I can’t sleep at night. The plight of those around me is keeping me up at night. My soul is bothered – I cannot hear of another innocent child being raped, another brutal murder, robbery….

I know that I am not alone because my friend said to me recently “The convenience of my middle class life is suffocating me”.  Too many people died and continue dying while I keep pretending to be an ostrich. An ex-colleague of mine left a lucrative job to go join a movement because ‘evil thrives when good men do nothing’. I have for long time not known what to do with all the things wrong in my beautiful country and I still don’t know – but inaction gets me no closer to knowing let alone sleeping.

So I have an idea. If you are reading this and agreeing with me, how about we start a movement that galvanises people? You are required to donate two very valuable things – your skill and time.

And let’s see if we can find other like-minded people who are willing to do the same and we donate our time and skill to help address the fact that our people are going to bed hungry, our children don’t have day care centres, the long queues at hospitals and clinics; and yet there are millions of our people sitting without a job or purpose. Imagine if we could inspire, teach and up-skill one person out of their situation.

If interested – inbox me with the following:

  1. Name
  2. Contact details (cellphone number and email address)
  3. Township close to you
  4. Area of interest/passion
  5. The skill you are offering

So, please share this note with as many people as you can –the more hands on deck- the more effective we will be.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Normal

I have not had much to say – not because there haven’t been things on my mind, quite the opposite in fact – I just could not find what to talk about.In a month’s time, we will be commemorating Nelson Mandela’s passing. This is going to be an opportunity to once again reflect on where we come from and where we are and going. I can already see the headlines, local and international – all good and bad – on the state of things in this beautiful country of mine.

My thoughts today are based on statements I have read or conversations I have had. At the risk of plagiarising – I will attribute comments accordingly.

In understanding what I found so difficult about putting my thoughts to paper – I described this period we are in as the ‘Twilight Zone’ I used to watch the Twilight Zone when I was a child.
This might explain a few things about meFor those who have never seen the show, it “it is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge” Branko Brkic dailymaverick.co.za/article/2009-09-30-the-twilight-zone-is-50-years-old/#.VFnejvmUd1Y

As we head into the silly season, the events of this year will pass, and we will plan for a better 2015. As historian, I am firm believer that we must look at our past to determine our future. But in so saying we need to know what lessons we learned.
So in review of things that have passed and had us acting in an episode of the Twilight Zone, here are my top three :

1.Oscar’s trail
Done and dusted. We move on, unsure what lesson. We will revisit this issue one day am sure. Just suffice to say, after explaining to my daughter what Oscar was on trial for, she said “Why did he not knock on the door?” But for a more informed view, read the article by Rian Malan on Oscar Pistorius in Newsweek: newsweek.com/2014/11/07/pistorius-trial-parable-about-celebrity-not-south-africa-280549.html

2.The Lighthouse Baby Shelter
My son turned two, and as per his paediatrician’s advice, I can now take him to a nursery school. In my search, I decided to check out the one up the street from house – The Light House Baby Shelter. I was saddened to find out that it is a home for ‘unwanted, abandoned and abused babies from newborn upwards’https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Lighthouse-Baby-Shelter-Main-Page/184040991612919?sk=info&ref=page_internal. My daughter last night asked me if I had found Lesego space in this school and without thinking I told her what that place was and she said ‘Why would anyone abandon a baby?’

3.Nkandla… Bring back what money, for what?
Apparently the draft report by the parliamentary committee on the Nkandla controversy has absolved President Jacob Zuma and concluded that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s findings against him on misspending on his private home were not binding Media24,

In the absence of something smart to say, I will quote Ranjeni Munusamy who said these things happen in our country “Because every day we get accustomed to a new abnormality”

My man

I few days ago I attended Emotional Intelligence training – I know right like I need that. It turns out among a few things that I am not a sensitive to others as I should be and that turning to myself for expert advice is not ideal – but will share more once I have my full debrief.

In learning more about my emotional side, we spoke about being a mother – especially of more than one. The women in the room had only one child and were scared of having the second one as they felt they would not be able to love them as much as the first one. They turned to me and asked how I found being a mother of two– my response was “You grow another heart” I did not think about my response then but I have been for the past two days. I have documented how responsible I feel about my role in my daughter’s development as a woman and placed a similar onus on her dad.

My second child is a boy – over and above the fact that he is a real terrorist – he is actually quite sweet. For the record – I do love him with all my heart and I am able to do so because Mother Nature gives you an additional heart with every child. He is learning to reciprocate affection – bearing my earlier declaration – I need to work harder at demonstrating to him emotion and affection.

In raising a man – I know that my responsibility is to also do right by his future female friends. To do so I need to make sure that I cut the umbilical cord at the right time – not too soon and not too late. If I get it right – I would have created a real man for some woman out there.

As much as my boy will model his father’s characteristics, making his dad’s role in him being a man crucial – I also have the same responsibility on how he will treat and appreciate women. And being a woman – I would want him to be a real man. But what would that entail – a real man that is?

So I came across a definition of real man by Myles Munroe and according to him – pardon the Christian bias – a man is the foundation – designed to hold the weight of the family. In addition, there is the below list – and without a guide book – I think this is a list worth working from.

Munroe says before I send him out to the world, I must ensure that he:

1.Has a clear self-image
•I must help in developing his self-confidence

2.Is in the presence of God
•I must teach him that while the world is his oyster, he must be aware of the bigger powers at play

3.Is working and loves to work
•I need to teach him about responsibility and accountability

4.Is able to cultivate a woman
•I need to teach him that it is his role to bring value to his woman’s life

5.Is able to protect his woman
•I must teach him about the power of his strength – that he must be able to use his strength for good and not harm

I have said many times that raising children is hard – but it is harder now that I know that I am actually raising a man.

 

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I have like many been fascinated by the response to the #Saveourgirls campaign. As a woman and a mother this is something which obviously concerns me. And as much as it has received global attention, it will eventually be overshadowed by some other world tragedy. But while it still has the spotlight, maybe we should be looking at the root of this problem – that worldwide women are a commodity – and one without much value.

The abuse of women is endemic. Women are raped, trafficked to be sold as sex slaves drug mules and still no one has managed to put a cost the loss of their dignity and self-worth because you can’t put a monetary figure to it. I was once held up at gun point and during the robbery – I was shaking as a leaf – and one of the robbers said to me “Don’t worry, we don’t rape” I could have kissed him had it not been for the gun pointing at my face. The second time was only a few weeks ago when my husband woke up to find a man tiptoeing out of my room. I, clad in nothing else but a t-shirt– the perpetrator left with nothing but a cell phone – made sure he did not wake me up. It could be that he thought he had just entered a scene from ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’- I snore. I am being facetious I know – but I have been lucky. And that is what we are now calling it – because the chances of being raped a higher than of not.

I went to wedding once and the priest’s sermon was about placing value. He told of a prince that was ready to wed and after a country wide search he could not find a suitable princess. However, there was a local village girl that he had taken a liking to. Not overly convinced, the king agreed and said that at least she would not cost them the dowry a princess would have cost. To which the prince told his father that whatever the dowry he was going to pay for the princess, the king must triple it for this local village girl. Surprised by the prince’s demand, the prince responded “It is only through us placing value on her that the rest of the kingdom will follow suit” 

He was saying that all men must place value on their women, husbands on their wives, fathers on daughters and sons on mothers. The amount of value these men place on the women in their lives, it is the value that society will place on them. Every year you see the most influential leaders across the world congregate at places such as the World Economic Forums to discuss the facilitation of ‘peace’ and globalised trading, but the sexual misconduct against women and children still does not make it on the main agenda. Yes there will be side meeting on gender inequality – but that is again in the workplace where the money is. The plight against women doesn’t feature on the main agenda is because we are not deemed as a valuable asset – well we don’t have a monetary value.

It took the questioning of costs relating to our President’s house for him to mention that the upgrades to his house stemmed out of a need for heightened security because one of his wives was sexually violated at that house. Would you then not have thought that this would be the man who would have zero tolerance on sexual abuse in this country?  Would that not have made him want to make sure South Africa was the safest place for women to be in?

My husband always says the day that boys start finding interest in our daughter, is the day that he buys a gun and will take every visit by the suitor as an opportunity to clean his gun. And we all know those dads – the ones that you knew that you fuck with that his daughter – he will come sort you out.

Where then have these men gone? The ones that are able to stand up for their women, be it mothers, daughters, sisters and say “Not on my watch” Imagine is every potential perpetrator knew that every man in this world would put him down without hesitation if he touched any women inappropriately. I guess it would be up to the men to find it inappropriate first.  

ImageFriendships are the most complex of relationships – more so than family.  I have been fortunate that I have acquired many friends over the years and we have formed a circle of friends. I always think of it as the same as King Arthur’s famous roundtable, where everyone who sits around this table is of equal status.

Back on the complexities of friendships, I have realised that same as family, friends seem to be the only relationships that even when they have crossed you – you seem to always forgive and come back to each other.  I speak from experience as I over these years have dealt with my fair share of crossings – either instigated by me or with me on the receiving end.  

One of the friends, who was then still not part of the circle, after observing a few of these crossing was surprised by the recipient’s  ability to forgive and move on – her exacts words were “Is there a shallow grave amongst you guys?”

Over the past week, I started thinking, as I do…. Imagine how hard it would be to keep such a secret. It would require so much work. For a secret as dark and deep as a shallow grave you would need to have a very tight knit circle of friends. However, there is no such thing as a shared responsibility on a secret. Even around King Arthur’s table there was a chair designated for King Arthur and he remained the king – the well-being of the kingdom rested on his shoulders, his responsibilities are slightly more than of his knights – as valued as they are. Even amongst his knights, I would imagine the ones that sat closest to him, were closer to the issues than those on the far end of the table.

That would be the same with the shallow grave, as much as the circle was privy to the existence of the shallow grave, there would still be the ones responsible for the incident behind the shallow grave. They would be the ones burdened with ensuring the secret was kept.

However, I am often surprised by how some people value themselves by how trusted they are with other’s secrets. You must have heard it before, “You can trust me with your secrets” and those are people that you should never tell your secrets to. Often the ones with a secret worth keeping have the ability to identify these people early on – hence their position in the circle. The challenge is that these people are almost always never aware of their shortcomings.

In their determination to claim some form of relevance – these are the people who plot and plan their rise to the top. Their choice of allies and modus operandi is always questionable, bringing into question their abilities – which almost always end up in not achieving their desired goal – a seat next to the King.

I must say I do empathise with the knight. I would imagine it would be difficult to explain to one’s ambitious wife, how you as a knight around King’s Arthur’s table do not enjoy the same privileges as some of the knights – when all are equal in status.

However, I would imagine once the King and his knights hear of the ambitions and possible impact on the well-being of the circle/kingdom/shallow grave, they would gather and put a plan in place to quell all ambitions permanently.

Shallow grave ….. what an imagination.