Tuesday, 13 January 2015

My community

A little over a year ago I attended a creative writing course. As part of the course, we had to do various creative exercises, one of which was to take a walk around Kleinmond and write about the experience we had during the walk. I walked to the beach area with a friend, and it was very interesting what the smell as I entered the beach area did to me. On today's blog post, I will share what I wrote and I hope its heart comes across.

"Today I stand & I do not represent you well,
not because that's not who you are,
but because, well, you are not!
All I see around me tells me I need not fear,
but soon as I, at the centre of a bush,
I hear so loudly with my nose an unpleasant sound...I fear!
You in me convince me that the safeness I feel is all a lie.
You remind me of the seemingly out of place man in rags I saw a little while ago,
and with his picture so clearly emblazoned in my mind, I smell blood on him.
Then you in me keep start thinking:
"could he have anything to do with the pungency of what I can't touch but smell all around me?"
For you, my community, have without relenting, instilled in me a fear I carry with me wherever I go.
A fear that reminds me whenever I start to feel comfortable & safe,
that I should not!
However far I walk from the thoughts,
you echo silently loud through every vein in me and tell me "fear is your companion, do not be deceived, you are not safe." 
 
The smell will not go away, just as you, my community, will not set me free,
not even for a little while to taste the freeness that is carried on the wings of fearlessness.
 
I look about me as you, my community, 
through all the experiences you have blessed and cursed me with,
start to see with my mind's eye what happened on the day the smell, in flesh, moved into the beach. And it happened like this:
 
"See, she was taking a long walk along the beach,
but now her destiny she will never reach.
He walked up to her because she was his niche,
when she told him he was not the ish, he had a lesson to teach.
He said one,
she did not say two,
but to him if they could not be one,
he would show her a thing or two.
All we can say now is she was transformed, and changed her address.
If he could not touch her, no one would.
Just as he smelled her on that day,
he determined to make everyone smell how he felt when she rejected him."
 
My community, you have crippled and have stolen from me the ability to not fear.
You, today, robbed me of an opportunity to take in and enjoy the solace and tranquillity promised by my surroundings.
 
 
This was one of those situations that creep up on you and make you realise things you did not know were happening or realities within you. When I had this experience, I realised that I had taken in so much of the violence that goes on in society and that it had affected me more than I had cared to admit before then. Makes me think, what other stuff influences the way I see the world, without even knowing it. #Selah
 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Fruits of rejection (#LoudThoughts)

From very early on in life I have had to deal with rejection, even though I did not necessarily know its name at the time. I was rejected by society from the moment I was born, because I was too black, I was too fat, I was too short, I was deemed not good enough. But I thank God for His love and redemption and for Him restoring in me the person He created wonderfully.
 
Me and big bro rocking nerds
I remember growing up in a community where my family was rejected because we were said to think we were better than others. But see, all my family did was their best efforts to be better than the system that told them they were not good enough. My family never tried to be better than anyone else, instead, I have a recollection of my grandmother always having people come to cry to her and she did all she could to make them better. All we were even interested in was beating the odds that enforced worthlessness onto a black person. We strived to pull ourselves out of a mentality of blaming the world for what happened or didn't happen for us or to us.

As much as I was young, I imagine that my family hoped that the rest of the neighbourhood would join in and pull together, but the exact opposite happened.
Be assured my community, our efforts have never been about you, we did not go to "good schools" to make you feel small, we did not live in a bigger house because of anything else but the fact that there were 15 of us living in the same house. If you knew anything about us, you would have known that there was room enough for you too in our "mall" as you choose to call it.
Mother Hen
If there was any group of people that was raised to uphold humility, it was my family. See, my grandmother used to wake up at 4 every morning to bake fish and get kids ready for school. As soon as her 5 children (plus extras in the form of nieces/nephew), that she was raising alone left for school, she would clean the house and soon start making her way to her first school where she would sell her fish so that her children would have food in their stomach. After school, they knew they could not go play with other children, because they had to help granny buy more fish and clean it for the next day, others had to walk around the neighbourhood selling some more fish. Tell me then, how could such a people have a complete disregard or think they were better than others?


Love abounds



The rejection that me and my family suffered did us great though, because it has kept us together as a unit and taught us that there are times when all we have is each other. I value my family and as cliché as it may sound, if I had a choice, I would choose them over and again. 
Dinner with the family


Fun times

I don't know where I am getting with this post, but I will say this, I thank my grandmother for teaching us unity and humanity, I thank God that we are eating the fruits of her humility. As for rejection, she taught us to live with what we had, people included, and to look beyond hurts and commit ourselves to what mattered, FAMILY.  To other people, family is mother/father/brother/sister, but I have a family of 20, and that blesses my heart all the time.

The brotherhood
It is your choice what you will do when people reject you, you can choose to retaliate or you can allow the rejection in one place push you towards a better place. Because of the rejection I mentioned at the beginning, I spent most of my time reading and getting to know myself, and if I could love myself anymore than I do, it would be conceit, haha. I made a choice that the rejection and what people thought of me or did not think of me, would not define how I would turn out. Let rejection be a teacher, do not wallow in pity when rejected, find the treasure that others have  not seen and embrace it.

For generations to come...


Until the 10th generation

These are only but my #LoudThoughts
 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Out of the box

No one likes to be confined to any box or stereotype, myself included. We spend so much time and effort in trying to not fit into the mould that society tries to confine us to, on any level. But, I have noticed that the more we try to rebel against the stereotype, the more we fit into it. Have you ever noticed how all poets (ok ok, let me not sound stereotypical), most poets, look a certain way and sound a certain way? I am a poet and a lot of people never believe that I can write and recite poetry, because I do not have dreadlocks and I do not smoke weed. Yeah, I have been asked if I'm sure I don't smoke because "poets are dope". I tried to jump into the box, tried to put across this persona who will walk around with uncombed hair. When I made the decision to not comb my hair, it was not a decision to fit into a box, but it was a decision to not fit in the box of "normal people". And where did that put me? Slap bam in the middle of the box created for the stereotype that I try to runaway from.
SO, my question is, why do we try so hard to defy these stereotypes when we actually fit so perfectly into them.
I wont try to be deep, these are just some of my loud thoughts.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

South Africa belongs to us!

This is the title of a book my grandfather wrote during the apartheid regime. He said South Africa belongs to us, and this for me speaks of a sense of pride and an ownership that leads to action. My grandfather was in the struggle against white supremacy, but his issue was not with the white man, it was with the inhumanity expressed by one human to another. The struggle as it were, was never about gaining a shift in supremacy, it was rather about claiming back dignity and the right to be have each one’s life viewed as valuable.


When I look around at what we call freedom, I know for sure it is not the freedom for which my grandfather lost his life, not only in death but in the time he left his family to live in other countries, fighting to gain the right to life. I look at the freedom we profess and I see no greater bondage and self-destruction.


If South Africa indeed belongs to us, why do we then treat it as we do? We might have taken back this land, but we have not treated it as its owner, we have not loved it as ones who know we own it. I would like to believe that the life that was lost was not merely so we could burn the very streets that we fought to be allowed to walk on. The freedom for which many shed blood does not look like the self-seeking parody daily displayed by what we call a governance system #LoudThought.


We act the way we do because we never fully grasped the cost of what we have, yes we have heard stories, but we do not fully know. We act the victim to a struggle that we never fought, and we refuse to accept that the battle we are now fighting is a self-inflicted battle against ourselves.


I have so many times applauded fellow South Africans for never retaliating when “peace” was declared over our country in 1994, I thought we had matured because of the past struggles, but each day that passes I seem to be proved wrong. We held hands and in one voice we sang “South Africa we love you, our beautiful land. Let’s show the whole world we can bridge the gap of hate”. I truly loved this song, and I still hold its sentiment, but I look around and the beauty about which we sang seemingly proudly, eludes me. Instead, I see a nation that is sick, a nation whose mind is still in shackles that keep tightening, not because of the crutch we have made the white man, but because we have reaped where we have not sown. Let’s forget about the misappropriation of funds, let’s forget about what government said they would give and haven’t given, but let’s begin to remember that government is people. And as a people, we have not embraced what we have, we have not taken pride in this land. That is why we are able to live in filth we create, because we cannot use the bins around town, we expect government to do it. Government is not a machine, government is not a robot that we can press and things start happening.


I wonder, if my grandfather were still alive, if those he was fighting with would see how we have turned this nation into what it is, would they still proudly say “South Africa belongs to us”. If we knew the cost of what we have, we would guard it with all diligence and make sure to preserve it for our offspring.



I said it!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Being black/African

I know and understand the need for each tribe and nation to keep its indigenous language/s. Should this, however, come at the cost of the inability to communicate with people from outside our tribes and nation?
Yes, in South Africa we have the right to express ourselves in our mother tongue, and to a certain extent, within one’s own province this is possible. But tell me, what then happens to the Xhosa speaking young boy who moves to Venda for university, and all his life he was taught to take “pride” in his language such that he saw no need for him to learn and perfect conversational English? What of the Peddie boy who has a dream to be a pilot and can only be taught in English when he reaches university? What happens to the Xhosa maid who comes across a European family looking for the skills she possesses and carries out with such grace?

I know a great many will bite my head off for saying this, but I am not apologetic for saying it. Yes, I know that there are white people from other countries that cannot speak English, I’ve heard that one too many times, it’s become so lame a reason that it is almost sickening. Until when will we use the white man as the standard of what is acceptable and what is not in society? I have heard so many “black and proud” friends say that it is okay for us to not know English because it is not our mother tongue, and that some Europeans also don’t know English. So what?
Have our minds become so stuck in our rebellion against what is in the past such that we use it to spite ourselves and our growth? Are we so limited in our view of the world spectrum that we do not make room for ourselves to ever exist outside the borders of South Africa where our indigenous language will render us shut out to possibilities? I ask.
Yes, let us take pride in who we are, but blackness is only a state of the mind, God created “them man and woman”, beyond that, whatever we choose to do, it is on us. Culture is something that we build, not something that we were born with, as black people, have we become so comfortable in our culture of trying to disprove the white man such that we would rather dig ourselves into a hole than take what he has? Just for interest’s sake, God created languages, not the white man, so learn as much as you can, it’s not a crime.
There is no reason for the girl in the rural areas to not know English just because she is “proudly Xhosa”. Do not worry about going extinct, we will not, and let us just accept that English IS the universal language and that we will gain nothing from fighting it, or will we? Educate me. In my view, the things that matter most and be preserved for our African culture, we have lost. We have become European in fundamental human issues and yet we guard and protect what needs no protection. What happened to Ubuntu, who is the ambassador of the preservation of our nature of living as a community, a family? While we chase after the wind, we are losing the nature of who we are, language is only a small part of it.
Yes I speak English with an accent, no it doesn’t say anything about my level of intellect, and most importantly, it is not to make myself feel white, I am not even trying to. It seems to me that in our efforts to prove (to I don’t know who) that we are proud to be black, we are costing ourselves better opportunities and the ability to rise above the victimisation of the past. I already said it, and I will not take any of it back.
 

Monday, 8 December 2014

A matter of principle

I have always believed that pedestrians are the biggest cause of a lot of accidents. To this effect, I decided a while back that I would only cross the road when I have the right of way; not that pedestrian crossings are viewed as our right of way by drivers (another story for another day).
If and when I get to a traffic light and it is red for the direction I'm moving towards and there are no cars in the other direction, I will still stop and wait for the green man. I'm sure a lot of people have looked at me like I'm crazy for doing this, but I have always just told myself, it is the right thing.
The other day, however, I stood as normal and waited, while about 6 people walked past me. Another lady stopped next to me, and after a few seconds, I started walking across, and she walked with me. Midway through our cross I turn to her and say "ayikho kodwa lento siyenzayo" (what we are doing is not right). The lady responds so quickly as though she had been waiting for this and she tells me this is something she never does, she always waits, but this time around she crossed because I was doing it. We went on to talk about how very early we both were for work, so there was really no reason for us to act foolishly and possibly cause an accident or something of the sort. We both could not believe that we had done something that we believe so strongly that is wrong, only because other people were doing it.
This got mw thinking about how easy it is to fall into "crowd thinking and/or acting", even without realising you are doing that. This has generally caused a lot of people to live in such a way that they never take responsibility for their actions and always find or have someone to blame for their very actions.
Also, it made me realise that just a slight shift from what I believe in, can impact someone else in a negative light, even without my knowledge. Moral of the story? Always do what you believe is right, regardless of whether it will make sense to other people or not.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The blind I



Growing up, I would hear people talking about “turning a blind eye”. As a young girl whose first language was far from English, I didn’t understand the meaning of this and I would think, 'what is the point in turning the eye if it can’t see anyway'?


Yesterday I experienced a young woman raising her walking stick to her mother and beating her, in front of her 4 year old son, and if you think there’s something wrong with that picture, the fact that it happened at a shopping mall makes it even worse. As though that was not enough, instead of people doing something about it, spectators were having a chuckle about it. "What have I missed?" I remember asking myself, when did we as a people stop seeing a need to step in? When did we lose our sense of right? Have we become so accustomed to injustice and abuse that we do not see it for what it is anymore? I remember a people that would stand up for each other, a people who would call out a wrong regardless of who performed it, where did that people disappear to?


Yes, it’s none of my business how they do their relationship, but I choose to make it my business the minute I remember that “the silence of the righteous causes evil to thrive”. See, my business is not what they are fighting about or the fact that they are fighting, but it is that I have not become desensitised to injustice, my eye has not been blinded by self-centeredness and a sense of "if it does not affect me I couldn't be bothered". 


I was raised in a generation when it took a village, a nation to raise a generation. I was socialised in an era where my heart’s eye was trained to see every elder as someone deserving dignity and respect, regardless of whether they were my kin or not. I wonder, where did we go wrong as a people? For a people who are so easily concerned about how the one celebrity cheated on this with the other and make it their business to follow and support people they might never meet, it intrigues me that a mere hand is not stretched to those within immediate reach. How did a gap so wide develop?


If you had seen what I experienced from a distance, you would have been sure that people were watching a comedian on stage or some other form of entertainment that rendered them unable to hold back their giggles. The dismay at seeing what was happening forced me to act, and I don’t know what the end result will be, but I hope that people who were there will learn that it helps to act, that to make the slightest effort possible is necessary.


There is a need for the "power of one" to be reawakened in people. The need for blind folds to come off surpasses my ability to express it in words.


Well, it turns out that my understanding of "turning a blind eye" was not too far off the point after all. I think we no longer turn a blind eye, but we have become a “blind I". I ask myself, is this how we want the world to be for our children, a selfish life filled with no compassion?