Reflections of yesteryears

April 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

In 2009, I left a job I loved and was progressing relatively well in for absolutely no other job prospect.  I explored, in my mind, several things that I knew I’d be good at, but need took the risks to pursue them. As a result, for the next year and a half, I was depressed and jobless. In the process, my credit record deteriorated and that is undesirable in the financial industry. I waited and waited and finally volunteered for a teaching post back home in Limpopo. At that time, I had had to move to Pretoria CBD from Fourways and was living with my two younger brothers and sleeping in the living room/kitchen, which meant no privacy. So, moving back to my Mama’s house, the home I grew up in felt like a demotion. My personal and professional lives were in tatters and I had been spending most times feeling sorry for myself, resenting and hating God for ‘not providing for me’. The voluntary position made me realise how much I love educating others and making them aware of things they had no knowledge of. That time was also characterised by fear, which started in 2009. I was constantly afraid that I was going to lose ‘my source, my provider’.

Turning up late and squabbling with some colleagues had become a part of my life. A lot changes when you tell your boss that you don’t trust him and pretty much that he’s favouring others above you. Well, the voluntary position ended when I got another offer; an actual job, teaching Grade 12 learners, amongst others, economics and accountancy at a rural school. The first thing that struck me was how high I had fallen: From working in a corporate office with air-conditioning to working in a lightless and air-condition less office, dominated by little people and from living in an affluent area, in a flat with a proper balcony and security. At this place, donkeys, goats and stray dogs were at times the order of the day. They would just stray onto school grounds if the gates were not closed.  I lived in teachers quarters that were at times dust encrusted if there was a storm the night before. The roofing would threaten to fly off and I would just pray for morning to come. Due times, sleep was a blessing that was sometimes hard to come by. But, I could clean it all away, prepared for lessons each day and just do my job, which I loved.

I think of those times often. Often, I think of the learners I left behind. I wonder if they’re doing well. I wonder about their dreams and whether they have someone who’ll guide them towards achieving those dreams instead of making babies and waiting for a measly government grant to make a living on. I also realise now that, during those times I was happy and afraid. I was and still am, afraid to dream, to dream new dreams and to want more from and for myself. I sometimes ,think that, being hammered like a nail that stood out, as a former colleague once said, was God’s way of telling me to be content with my lot. Now I am nearly 32 and in yet another training programme and afraid. Afraid that I won’t meet the yard stick of measurement. But, now I realise that God giveth and He alone taketh away. I also realise and have learned that, it is possible to sabotage one’s self. CS Lewis says that you’re never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream. Well, I’ve started dreaming again, on a massiveish scale, especially now that I have paid off all my old debt. It took me 20 months to pay all of it off and for that I’m thankful to the Lord of lords and King of kings, who gave me the ability to do so. So now I have new dreams: Cum laude my Masters in Economics, Complete my Pattern Making and Design course, travel to African countries, study Criminology and marry someday.

There is not much I can do about the past. It’s come and gone. I can only look forward from now. I will take my failures and past fears as lessons. Lessons to teach me to fight and be resilient and to never back down and stand up for what I believe and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Being chased out of my previous and being ‘marooned’ on a tiny village with donkey carts as the main mode of transportation have taught me a lot. Life is always changing. Circumstances are there to teach us, not to dictate our future unless we let them.  Not everyone wants your good or wants to build your dreams. You must build them all yourself and trust God that, should you fail, He will be there and will carry you forward. Because that is precisely Who He is.

Now, I have to get back to Chapter One; dissertation.

Affirmative Action unbiased leadership

November 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

It is often said that respect is earned and not taken. Those that take do so through violence of great proportion, instituting fear itno the hearts of their underlings. Affirmative Action is embraced by those it favours with great enthusiasm, like a lover embracing a long lost consort. Possibilities are dreamt up, futures are planned and ideas birthed on the premise of the continuing favour of such a system. However, those whom it does not favour look upon it with disdain, fear and shun it like the plague. Most times, the favoured are accused of riding the coatails of such a system, with no competence or substance. After all, who can blame them? Such a system has been abused too many times, without remorse, regret or contrition. The abusers have long held their noses up in the sky and claimed that they’re capable of taking advantage of opportunities given unto them; exploting whichever loophole would give them the greatest return in the form of money.

A new trend now emerges: Black managers incapable of being bias-free and devoid of favouritism. It is in an attempt to appear unbiased, objective and cool-headed that such traversties are committed. Young black professionals are still expected to claw their way through promotions, through responsibilities and the competence ladder. Whichever fool said that to build a bridge, you need to break the path deserves to be whipped! This is the making of a poor leader indeed: one who is incapable of giving credit where it is due, flaunts his/her bias for all to see, fails to demonstrate unbiasness! Aye, to err is human. However, how much more does one tolerate erring, especially when it seems that the current offense is greater than the last? Black bosses I fear will continue to struggle with this one. They will either regard their kind as less than and fail them completely or smother them so much and leave them utterly incapable of thinking for themselves, reducing their trust in them and looking upon them merely as check collectors.

My wild mane

September 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

My wild mane; like electricity, it crackles as I run a comb through it; unpredictable, wild and stubborn like a wild stead unbroken. I grip the comb tightly, determined to show it who’s Master, but like a 2-year old it sticks its tongue out at me. Arms akimbo, fuming like the flame off the fire in the mbaola, I look in the mirror. Narrowing my eyes, I create an apparel tsunami in search of a pair of scissors, surely this will prove, I RULE. I finally find the pair of cutters, laying next to it like an Eve to Adam is a month-old jug of relaxer…like Delilah to Solomon it tells me…”just one smooth swipe at that wild mane and you’ll be boss”. I recoil and rebel at first…then i think of the 30 min i’d need each morning to wash, condition and straighten my wild mane. I turn away from it and bang! to my right i find No Hair and it too calls out….”just one smooth swipe and you’ll be free”….i recoil at that idea as well. I think about the Nivea sunscreen I might have to buy to protect it from the sun, Glycerine will only make it worse while Vaseline will sure put a shine and fire to it…I’d have to wear a hat. Oh blast I say to myself. Turning around, I bat my eyelashes at the Dark & Lovely anti-breakage hair relaxer……”come to Mama”, I croon…just this once ok?, I think to myself. Only be gentle, my scalp is sensitive. As I mix it with the activator, it’s as if I can hear Edgar Rodriguez uttering sweet nothings into my ears, just this once and no more, I promise.

Where is God when it hurts – Update

June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

It has been so long since I’ve been, so long since I penned words on to this board. Wow…so much has changed. While some things have remained the same, most things have changed.

The last time I was here, I had a very important question (according to my own standards to ask. The wrong audience perhaps, but the question itself was valid (and still is). After 18 months of searching and discouragement and having doors shut in my face, God intervened on my behalf; yes, God intervened. On my behalf. You could say that He showed me great mercy. This of course after moving back home to live with my wonderful Mama and being forced to aknowledge that my life of opulence was over. After volunteering for a teaching post at home, I was eventually employed, mind you temporarily; as a teacher, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I experienced the typical life of a teacher: the challenges, the angst, the overload of work and somewhat discouraged learners. It was good I must say….while it lasted. Now I have a new job that I thoroughly love and enjoy…perhaps not so much love, purely because of its nature…but, it is what i’ve wanted to do for a long while. However, i still have questions.

Someone dearest to me is now going through exactly what I experienced. The emotions, the fear, the rejection….and all i can think about is how I can help make it all better. You know how you cannot solve other people’s problems, but can help bear the load that is sitting heavy on them? I am in that stage. Frustrating, evolving, worsening and no indication of anything becoming better. It’s so hard not to feel discouraged. From my own experience though, I’ve learned to achieve the little I have. The people in my life, who when I said I’m drowing said we will hold you up. Those people, I love them wholeheartedly. Perhaps a piece on these lessons is necessary.

For those facing the storm: Remember that it will end. Fight and don’t give up and never say die!

Where is God when it hurts?

November 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

?If there is a question that has been asked by all of humanity and debated over and over again; and actually stood the test of time; it is this one: where is God when it hurts? The thing about this question is that, it in inescapable; for we each will or have asked it at one point or another in our lives.

Perhaps you read accounts of the survivors of the Holocaust as millions were slain without reason; maybe you watched the live broadcast of the extirpation of the World Trade Centre’s Twin Towers on the 11th of September in 2001. Maybe you think about the injustices of the previous (and present) South African governments. After all, each has and has had its own social ills that it inflicted on its people; either as a by-product of extemporised policies or as a result of clearly communicated intentions that at times served to extenuate suffering and loss suffered; for the sake of what may have seemed to be right, thus worth pursuing.

I’m a fiercely independent woman. I don’t find it easy letting people do while I watch. Furthermore, I don’t like talking about my feelings; a shortcoming which to an extent, I believe has led me here; to this moment. As such, you can imagine my dismay and utter despair when I was plunged into the world of unemployment; which has evolved into my currently discouraged job seeker status; after months of searching. What’s worse is that, my faith, my very foundation has been decimated. Most times it feels like I’m standing on stumps for feet, though I’m not at all disabled (keeping in mind that we have all one sort or another of disability; even though all our limps may be attached to our bodies).

I find that, this has led me to question what I believe, including God’s love and His very existence. It pains me to admit that but, for so many months, I’ve been plagued with doubt, hopelessness and helplessness. The well-intended words of friends served to make matters worse: it made me feel worthless and of no consequence. I wasn’t contributing to anything productive. I blame it on the fact that, I’ve taken what others said about my abilities, internalised their words and made them true to me. So, it was no surprise therefore that I found myself relating well to the people in Philip Yancey’s Where is God when it hurts? I too am asking that question: Where is God when it hurts?

Thus far, I haven’t found an answer. I’m still asking the why question. I’m trying to deduce what the purpose of this seemingly dry season is. What do I want in the mean time? For friends and family to stop saying it’s going to be ok. Trying to silence my complaints only adds to my anguish and sorrow. Why? Because they don’t understand. Not really. All i want if for you to just be there. Be quiet and just be present; no words necessary. The words make things worse; and why feel the necessity to speak anyhow?

What else do I want? To remember that, I’m the one going through it; not you. Let me retain a degree of control, for there isn’t a lot I can control at the moment. So, don’t make it about you. If you want to see, check with me first. Don’t just tell me you’re coming to see. It’s great and all, but, sometimes you stifle me when all I want is to be alone.

This however does not answer the question of Where is God when it hurts? It still hurts, but I’ve learned new things. I’ve learned to trust God and people. I’ve learned to not strive for control all the time. I’ve learned to pull back and actually think. I’m also learning how to put words to my feelings, to express myself. My greatest lesson thus far? Well, I’ve learnt to say No, I’m not doing so well; to admit my feelings and express them. So, when it seems like God doesn’t care, look around you and notice how others have carried you. I believe that therein you’ll find your answer.

Of morality

November 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

Of Morality, youth and ékasi

 

On the day when Americans were commemorating the loss of thousands of lives lost in the September 11th World Trade Centre (WTO) attacks, my path this day led me to a completely different place. Keeping in mind that the next day (12th September) would be the anniversary of the Black Consciousness Movement leader, the late Bantubonke Steve Biko’s death, with a friend I attended both an art exhibition and a book launch. Karin Daymond’s ‘Position in space’ themed art exhibition spoke of the very personal journey of an artist, so properly themed because she seeks to ascertain where she belongs relative to her environment. Being inexperienced in the profession of assessing what art is and isn’t, I was quite enraptured. Quite frankly, I blame that on my impressionable eyes and mind. So, I’d suggest that anyone interested, find out for themselves by taking a shot’ left in Parktown at Gallery 2. You’ll be surprised at the vast differences between the interpretation of the artist and that of your own. This of course, from a novice who knows very little about art; as I said. Sublime; in my view.

Having said that, Charlene Schwartz’s launch of her third book titled Ikasi was another affair altogether. It touched issues that I have experienced personally and have always wondered about. She speaks of the issues that young people are faced with on a daily basis in rural areas. Perhaps her rural is different from mine. There was regardless, a point that she raised of interest to me; a question that she said the subjects of her study asked her repeatedly:


How can you, being white and from a privileged background, understand what we the black youth face on a daily basis? You after all haven’t lived a day in a township! So, how could you begin to understand?’


This is of course a valid question. As many freedoms as we have today and as many ‘opportunities’ as we have, supposedly available to us, the fact is, there is still a divide between the people of South Africa. It is still a rather touchy and subjective issue of contention, regardless of which side of the fence you’re on; that is if you have a fence whose side you stand on. However, this is not about the politics van ons ewege land. Hier die pos gaan oor verskelde dinge.

There are several issues that Charlene talks of in her book that; despite having not read the book resonated with me at her book launch:

  1. There is a degree of moral deprivation that is slowly eating away at our societal moral fibre we have for so many years carefully constructed and sometimes, destroyed, intentional or not
  2. Education; good quality education can mean the difference between the life of poverty and possibly crime and a meaningful and contributory life 
  3. Lack of supervision has led to poor family structure and therefore contributed, to some degree, to the decay in our moral fiber 
  4. The existence and involvement of church leaders or religious figures is lacking in impacting the lives of young people today 

 

Having thought on these issues, my one question, a question that I constantly grapple with, which to my shame I haven’t really given great thought as I ought to have before this is: What are we as the adult population of South Africa doing about this? I’m not talking about black youth only here. But, I speak of the Youth of South Africa. And I do not mean, as represented by politicians, we shan’t say which, but I’m certain you can deduce for yourself which. How can we help? What more can we do? What else can we do and should be doing that we aren’t? Should we be doing anything at all? Or should we leave this in the hands of our political and religious leaders?

 

 

On being a writer

November 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

There is something rather incandescent about the ability to influence others through the written word.

 

To be a writer is to imagine the worst of atrocities, the most sensual of seductions, the unimagined and unimaginable, to ponder the impossible and yet achieve them, to discern the possible and exceed them all, to grasp riches and still have it elude you, to possess and acquire knowledge and yet be unable to call it you own or keep it secret. It is the art of being a most trusted confidante and yet be the most unimaginable of gossips, it is the art of appearing aloof and ignorant and yet able to sing like a canary and unfold like an encyclopaedia. It is the ability to inflict and incite both fear and passion and yet, be able to hold back emotions threatening to overcome the characters, It is the ability to have your readers lie on the edge of their beds, lights burning until the wee hours of the morning, unable to put your works down; the pleasure to snare and release at will. The ability to teach and admonish without restraint or fear of being admonished yourself. It is the ability to bewitch and tantalise, to make the bold choice to reject to accept the advances of a potential suitor or lover. It is the ability to make true other people’s nightmares, to play upon their vulnerabilities. It is also an opportunity to establish, to build, to tear down, to provide comfort, to identify.


Even in all this, I find that this somewhat sacred art of being able to whisper what isn’t into being is above all, a tool to serve others, which to me is a far greater purpose than its ability to afford the writer room to entertain.


To let your mind wander in fear, to open doors to horrors you’ve only heard told around fires by people of old, it is to unleash on others terrors of the future that they themselves cannot grasp nor comprehend. To write is to embed into history your name; the unending association of your name with concocted lovers, terrible kingdoms, a goodness beyond measure; it is to terrify and supplant. To abuse and to let abuse, to unleash wisdom unexpected without thought or care for repercussions, to drive madly to the brink of obsession for your work so that the reader, consumed and unable to put your works down; enthralled by your abilities eventually enquires: how do you do it? And as you look back on the amount of hours spent penning all your thoughts down, sifting through the plots that would just not work without some minute element and trying to settle on one genre and style of writing; till the early morning, disturbing your sleeping habits. And all you can truly do is look at the reader and honestly say, ‘It was all hard work, good research and an imagination that didn’t hold back the floodgates of terror, sensuality and joy that assailed your inmost being and senses. 


Others will swear that you had a split personality and therefore in need of psychiatric care. All this, just because there are murderers, rapists, great heroes and heroines, mothers, fathers, terrible children and psychopaths, sociopaths that are constantly battling for your attention; for you to tell their stories. Your elders might even say that you’re possessed that ba goloile. You’ll find yourself constantly seeking solitude; quite. You’ll find your comfort zone expanding with such terrible immdiacy and force. You’ll find that it is the one means you have to communicate your fears so effectively that others live in it with you. You’ll find your moral compass questioned, your sanity debated, your attitude scrutinised; but above it all, you’ll find criticisms, perhaps acclaim, favour with your readers and suddenly you’ll find yourself pressured to perform, to deliver, to constantly do better, greater works than before. Then you will realise, that you’ve become a magician; a woman or man with iron fists, your pens and paper, instruments of your trade; your plight. You will learn that you do have wings to fly, that you’re somewhat untouchable; at lesat that’s what you will tell yourself.  

Within Shadow

September 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

Good afternoon letterdash world! I hope that all is well with you all. Well, after my first (fairly hectic) post last night, I thought I’d pen down, this afternoon, something that I wrote. A brief non-fiction story of sorts. I hope that you enjoy reading it. I’ve called it Within Shadow.

Stalked. By what, I did not know. Every shadow seemed to hide and behold an enemy, that stalked my very steps. It seemed to be that this enemy sought to possess my every thought, to capture each thought so as to fashion a weapon after my very design. Such was the despair that befell my soul. All my limps tired of fighting, my very strength failed me. How was I to push the darkness away in an hour of darkness? In my direst hour of need my courage had failed me; deserted me as a beloved would desert her lover, without thought, compunction or care. Woe you my strength for fleeing me at an hour I sought to hold onto you with each breath in me. My limps fought to never breathe again; to give in to the darkness I had thought I held at bay. To embrace the drum rolls and echoes of darkness that called unto me each hour. My carcass longed for the hour of its demise. The ash that I am cried out to return to its maker. The love of those of those I held dear could not hold the shadows at bay;  hold shadow’s sway. He is as slippery as a snake, condemning my soul to death to join my father as he rests. Shall I then like a maiden, unmarried depart into shadow? Never to cry, laugh, hold nor love again?

As I stood by the sea shores, waves gently lulling me to sleep, giving me comfort I knew I’d never again know. I thought back on my life. I had tried to be a good daughter and sister. I had tried to do good, but now tired of it. My thoughts were consumed with shadow and his grip tightened each day as my cries died. I breathed in the salty waters of the sea. I will swim you tomorrow, I promised. I looked up to the heavens, the stars it seemed were making a ring for me; as if to say, welcome home, we await your return.

The sound of a vehicle startled me out of my haze. I turned to look at it and saw a man jumping out. He came towards me, his features unclear to me as I could not discern them. Had God heard and granted my request then? Would this man be the end of me? Would he be the reason none would speak of my bloodline? Would he be the one to push me the last step into shadow?

‘Ma’am, please get out of the water. It is not safe. It is dangerous this time of the night to be near the sea like that’, I heard him say, without discernment.

‘Ma’am, did you hear what i said? You cannot be here’…..he continued to speak as his voice was swallowed by the roar of the ocean.

I turned to look back at the ocean. I took a step forward, waded further inside. Strong and work-callused hands seized from behind and I was thrown to the ground. I gulped some of the sea water and was promptly dragged from the shore, sputtering and dazed. That is all I remember. When i awoke, it was in a new and strange place.  

Courage under fire

September 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

If there is one thing that I have heard numerous times over the period that I have been without formal employment is that one needs to take heart and not lose it; to be strong and of good courage, just like Paul instructed TImothy to be. To stand and keep standing, even when you think you can’t stand anymore. The expectation? The promise? Well, many times I was told that it would not last; that like a JSE investor or day-trader, I’d recover my losses and hopefully make it big. You want to know what I was thinking? The questions I asked? Well, naturally I was like: ‘Have you walked in my shoes?’ Do you know what it’s like to get a call and have to explain to someone why you can’t pay your account? Naturally, most responses were in the negative. I got these strange (to say the least) looks and mumurs of people saying, ‘it’s gonna be ok. You’re gonna be fine’…..in the meanwhile I was thinking, ‘Kiss my big black posterior!’ You don’t know my future. You don’t know (where some were concerned at least) where I have nor where I am going. Despite it all (though it hasn’t ended), I’ve learnt a few important lessons that I think are a mark of courage under fire.

1. Don’t ever underestimate your capability to handle what comes your way. Remember, you’re going through it because you can handle it. Just like that Whitney houston’s song…….’there were so many times i, wondered if I’d get through the night I, thought I took all that I could take’….your life will pretty much sound like that and believe me, when people say you’re gonna be alright, believe that you are. You’ll be like a mother who has just endured a 2-hour long long labour, only to smile at the end of it.

2. Do NOT (and I mean, no matter how tempting it may be)…ever, push those trying to help you away, in whatever small way. As people, and it matters not your background, colour, creed or parents, your status or gender, we were made to be creatures of habit, creatures of commonality and creatures who seek to belong and to not be alone. One of the things that i experienced and still struggle with is accepting help. Yes! Pride! It’s like a huge chip on my shoulder, but it’s slowly but surely being chipped away. You know the saying, no man is an island? Even if you think that you’re a loner and a trooper and can go at it alone, that detachment catches up with you eventually. Others may not see it, but you will feel it.

3. Hold on to your beliefs with every breath in you (I mean like Xavi on a soccer ball or a fat kid on a cupcake). Often times, we accuse each other of being sentimental or being religious. So what if I believe in everlasting life? Believe you me, when your standard of living drops drammatically, that is the first place you either point your finger or shake your head or seek answers. No matterhow much pain you may be in, do not let that out of your sight. No matter how angry you get at your circumstances, at the end of the day, you will be refined and you will be a better person at the end of it all. Perhaps you may even turn out like Job: after hhe lost all his wealth and children, he gojt back double what he had….perhaps much more. YOu may just be that JSE investor who makes it big.

4. Consider those less fortunate than you and be grateful for what you have. Ever seen a raging bull with an eye on a target? Ever notice the killer look that it throws its target? Well, I will say I because as people as far too general. In my circumstances and anger, I failed to consider and appreciate all that I have, despite loss of my formal employment: my supportive family, my sacrificial Mother, brother and sister and my friends that despite it all, stuck around….even when I made them miserable. As a result, I failed to see that I was in a far better position regardless. It made me angry when someone like my brother mentioned it. But, believe you me….it does you a great deal of good to think of others and to help where you can.

You will find at the end of it that you become like refined silver, refined at the Master’s hand, with love and appreciation, for these are never missing, even in the midst of pain, anger and derision. So, take courage, be strong and you shall overcome, even with courage under fire.

Hello world

September 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

This is a sample post on your brand new blog. You can edit this post by clicking the button above, or delete it the same way, or even start an entirely new post by clicking the create button on the right of this page.

Have fun blogging.