The Big Disconnect – The South African Semantic

This woman inspires me in so many ways I love her.

Simphiwe Dana

There has been many shocking incidents that have rocked the foundations of our new South Africa. I will not dwell on any one incident but will rather note our collective sensationalist reactions to them. Most importantly note the self destructive characteristic it reveals in us in that our focus has not been to fix but to find fault. There seems to be a big disconnect between the hero/leader and the person on the street. It seems we only see South Africa through the actions of our leaders, we do not have our own ownership of it. That could be why we do not try to save it. Expressing shock and throwing our hands in the air in exasperation is not enough, it is just blowing hot air. It is especially hot air if our mood is dependent on populist sentiment. I see how we crush leaders, dust off our hands…

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The Thing about Acting is You can’t Pretend!

Moshidi Motshegwa Brilliant South African Actress
Moshidi Motshegwa Brilliant South African Actress

Weird no? Maybe you knew this, but I have I have always thought that acting is all about pretending.  So the penny dropped with the play that I have been acting in.  I have been acting now since last year, in a play that I wrote and co-produced with my brother Peace,  called LINDIWE! I told him one day that since I never had the opportunity to be in a school-play  I would write one and act in it. He laughed at me and we’ve been laughing since! But wow the art of acting is  harder than I ever imagined.

The thing about acting is you have to be that character. Unless you can convince  an audience that you are that person, you’re not really acting  so in that moment you are not you. To act,  you must have an ability to literally step into another persons shoes, feel their pain, their joy, their personalities, idiosyncrasies, get into their minds, how they think, process things, how they relate, while using of all of your experiences to bring that character on stage or on camera, without taking any of it as yours.

There’s no room to doubt who you are in that character. You have to be sure. Of who the character is  and  who you are. Acting  takes empathy to another level. It requires so much of you  and nothing of you at the same time. You have to be present without interfering with the character you’re portraying ( mixing up  your issues with the character’ as an example) Confidence in who you are is an absolute MUST. Pamela Nomvete recently published a book on her struggle to “get out” of a character giving after brilliant performance as conniving Ntsiki in South African soapy  Generations.

You have to know yourself so well that you don’t confuse yourself with another person. It’s a highly demanding profession that requires, absolute Focus, attention to detail, discipline, passion, and most of all, acting DEMANDS  that all of you be there all the time. The art of forgetting is not easy to master. You have to forget (leave the past BEHIND) about you while you are being another person, and be able to be yourself after the director says cut. Amazing. I’m thinking of Leonardo Di Caprio in the great movie Invictus – the play between the dream space “real” space.  Heath Ledger as the joker in batman. Both brilliant perfomaces

You have to constantly, insistently clean yourself out,  deal and confront all of your baggage on all levels, your pain, your fears and come back from it. You have to maintain absolute objectivity about your emotions, acknowledge them without becoming your emotions. Over and over again – every single day. The dark side of the profession is losing yourself to another character.  It’s an amazing skill and though you can  be taught and learn to do it –  I am  learning more and more that it’s  something  you either have or you don’t in order to maintain the focus and passion that is required. You also have to rest. Relax. Be. Know how to chill. That’s another skill.

It’s teaching me so much about life too – so much! It’s explaining life.

You have to learn, know, how to take care of you. Know your limits, what you can and cannot take, how far you can go and for how long. That’s where the magic happens. Your mind space, home space, heart space, everything has to be incyc – balanced, in harmony. You have to be aware at all times, of your emotions and feelings, be able to observe and listen to others without judgment.  Ultimately you have to be in complete control of You, in order to allow the character to emerge without ever losing a sense of who you are!

Thank you to all the amazing actors and actress in the world! I have newfound complete  respect for your craft!  It is hard work and only those born to do it can without losing themselves. Thank you. And I would be remiss if I don’t single out one Brilliant South African actress who has never failed to impress me  with her sterling work.  She is not only a gifted actress but she’s an amazing person too, intelligent,sensitive and so focused!  Her most endearing quality  is her humility. she so Human! I’m humbled by her brilliance.  South African Actress  Moshidi Motshegwa (Scandal, Zero Tolarance,  Drum, The Lab, JoziH) – she is absolutely SUPERB! at what she does.

You are Amazing sister, thank you for sharing your gift and bringing your best in each and every role you play. You inspire greatness.  I look forward to see  more of your amazing work.OVE!


The Sunday Love List…

Find Love In Everything You Do
Find Love In Everything You Do

I used to have that sinking feeling each Sunday as a child, while polishing my shoes or thinking about homework not done, or the teacher or bully I would be forced to confront. The feeling stayed with me till my adult life as an employee.  Now that I am free-lancer and every and any day can be a working day, that anxiety has subsided somewhat, but the prospect of a new week still has that lingering sinking feeling – It’s become a habit. So I’ve decided to do something different. Since I have been talking and writing about love, I thought why not replace the normal “To Do List” with a list of a different kind. The “To Love (doing)List”. Listing all the things I would love to do – taking out the “work-obligation-element” to it and making it actually something to look forward to, to enjoy. Replacing the dread with an expectation of more fun! So I’m going to write a  “ love list”, even though the things that I need to do like,  my laundry don’t seem fun, it’ll be fun when I have clean clothes to wear.  I’m sure you get my drift, however simplistic.  My Sunday love list will be just about  everything I love this week, or everything I enjoyed the last week. So that will create a positive expectation of the week to come – by focusing on the things I would love, and finding love in my duties and obligations.


  1. Coffee. I love coffee and enjoy it enormously.  Though I used to be a slave to it before, I now drink coffee for pure pleasure. I enjoy it now and drink less of it surprisingly.   I was fortunate to get a bag of ground coffee from my favourite Coffee shop –Cramer’s Coffee. I love the smell of coffee, and I often add cinnamon to it when I’m at the coffee shop, because I love the smell of cinnamon just as much! Since I cannot indulge in all  the sweet delicacies that often have cinnamon like cakes and buns, I have it in my coffee instead. I am often tempted to accidentally pour it on my clothes and wear cinnamon as perfume. Imagine! I really enjoy the smell, it literally makes me smile
  2. Lemon.  This citrus fruit is amazing – I often replace coffee with just hot lemon water, because it’s infinitely better for your health and also because I love the taste.  It’s better than wine!
  3. PLAY. I love all things performance, and this week I will be performing in Kliptown, rehearsing for our fund-raising event on Saturday. Seeing an idea  grow into something tangible and real must be the most  rewarding thing on earth!
  4. TAXI-Ride. I don’t mean a cab. Traveling in a minibus taxi, though at times quite frightening, is a beautiful way to learn about people, current trends, news and what not’s – taxi conversations can be hilariously funny, interesting and sometimes depressing. It’s like a multi media tv/radio channel. You can choose to listen or do something else,
  5. READING: Like reading. Since I’m not driving, travelling in the taxi gives me a chance to catch up on my reading. I’m currently reading Simone De Beauvoir’s Second Sex, she’s a gifted intellectual and writer. Movement helps me absorb her Language better – somehow it works for me.  I actually literally look forward to being in a taxi so I can read! I love reading.
  6. WALKING:  Oh I love walking and look forward to opportunities to do that, not only do I get exercise, but I experience the city from a different   perspective.  I notice and observe things, shops, smells and people, birds, signs and venues that would generally pass me by in a car or any other mode of transport. There’s something about having your feet on the ground. Walking grounds me. And that feels great. For someone a little challenged on the directions front it’s also a good way of learning directions believe it or not. I know the city of Johannesburg better today because I have walked the streets, I may not get there quickly but I won’t get lost! Haha and it’s FUN. When wearing High heels, the city becomes my ramp!
  7. SKIPPING: I recently discovered that I love skipping! A surprise for me because I’ve always associated skipping with punishment, because my grandmother used a professional skipping rope to punish us when we were naughty as kids. But now I found I enjoy the exercise and find it has a fun playful element to it too– also from childhood – that makes it an enjoyable silly thing to do. I skipped all the way to the supermarket this afternoon and found it was another way to reconnect  with my grandmother and appreciate and love her more and  have fun with her ( she used to skip too)  And it is a great workout!
  8. WRITING: You may or may not have noticed that I love writing, but I do. Going out meeting people and doing things I love, gives me something to write about, I look forward to writing more about the things I love and which interest me! Writing is like is meditation for me.
  9. MUSIC. Helps me to focus on nothing hehe… I mean  the beautiful mystery of life, helps me focus on my breathing, express the emotions that I cannot yet write about or digest, or understand. Music is creations’ gift to mankind.  It moves me.
  10. DANCING: I haven’t danced much lately but whenever I hear great music the most natural thing for me to do to show appreciation – to give thanks – is by dancing. It’s the only way I know how to honour other people’s gifts and talents, in music. I may not say thank you, but I will dance to it, that’s my way of saying thank you for the music!
  11.  HAIR. For years I’ve given other people the responsibility of taking care of my hair.  But now I’m learning to have fun with it, and allow it to grow in its natural state. It feels good between my hands, sensuous almost and it’s just another way of showing love and appreciation for what I have – reconnecting to myself. It’s teaching me to be patient. I’m falling in love with my hair and it’s relaxing. Great for finger exercises too 🙂
  12. SLEEPING. I used to dread sleep. Now I enjoy it, and look forward to just relaxing… after all this activity it feels good to retire, close your eyes and down load. Great sleep is good for your health and doing the things you love, will make it easier to fall into peaceful lustful sleep.
  13. FILMS. I love great documentaries and films, Movies etc. The medium is amazing for me as it combines all my favourite things like music, books, writing into a harmonious audio-visual dream. If it’s not that intriguing (not all movies or films are wonderful) watching films allows me to fall asleep without a moment’s hesitation. Helps me unwind.  I love this form of storytelling and look forward to making some of my own!
  14. HONEY! How can I forget? I love you honey! And thank the universe for the Bees who work so hard to make you possible. (no pun intended: but I do look forward to spending more time with you!)  I also love having honey in my coffee whenever I can get good natural honey – it’s good for everything! YUM! Thank you for the gift of love! Honey makes me SING!

Hope you enjoyed  reading my list of Things/activities I look forward to enjoying this week.. I’m sure I could write a thesis but I will leave it here so that you also can have some room to think, visualize and even write down some things you would love to enjoy doing this week.   Share some of your favourite love to do lists with me if you have time. But most of all…

Have a LOVELY week.




24 August 2013. There was something in the air in the city of Johannesburg this weekend. A foul smell  whose fumes became stronger and stronger as I  walked through  Marshall Town’s Main Street to my favourite coffee and internet spot – Cramers’ café.  The source of the odour was indiscernible amidst  the picture perfect city scenery of blooming flowers and neatly paved clean walkways.

What it was, though, was unmistakable, sewage, an invisible sign that something is wrong. “I thought it was me” said one city slicker to another commenting on the overwhelmingly subtle stench.

A protesting worker taking a break.
A protesting worker taking a break.

No sooner had I turned the corner and there they were masses of people dressed in the unmistakable red beret   and accompanying t-shirts.  Some wore their  colours in military fatigue and ANC Military Uniforms.  The Economic Freedom Fighters perhaps? Closer inspection revealed that they were fighters, for sure, but of a different kind. The National Union of Mines (NUM) workers were marching from central Johannesburg to the center of economic activity in Johannesburg inner city. The Chamber of Mines and BHP Billions’ Head Quarters nestled pristinely between Marshall, Simmonds and Main streets of Johannesburg.

The writing on those buildings is on the wall.

It was a scene much like all other similar protest the marches.  With one noticeable exception; A scene I have not seen before. A group dressed in long red and black gowns, similar to those worn by choirs, priests, judges and graduates. They called them – Abafundisi (a Zulu word meaning Ministers/preachers) of Justice, Led the March.   “We are serious” they said on top of a rudimentary truck podium.  I looked for my clan for “safety”.

The media – amongst the bright reds of the workers and navy blues of the Police. But only the South African Broadcasting Corporation(SABC), France Radio International (RFI) and the BBC Radio News services were the ones I could identify.

“Phansi ngo Mamphele Ramphele Phansi” she recently revealed her 5 0million rand net worth.

Time for  a quick howzit??
Time for a quick howzit??

They shouted

“Phansi ngo Dali Mpofu Phansi!” he recently asked for compensation to represent mine workers slain in the 2012 , Marikana massacre.

They creamed

“Phansi nge AMCU phansi!’  The mining union formed during and after the massacre on August 16th 2012

They agreed

“Phansi nge Lonmin” The mining company whose striking were later shot down.

They Saluted. Amandla! Power!

Re-affirming support for South African Communist Party (youth league?) leader (SACP), Buti Manamele , including the Deputy General Secretary of Cosatu on a rudimentary truck podium. They were seriously angry and not backing down.

The crowd was a mix-masala of women and men dressed in Military fatigues, with NUMSA and ANC t-shirts taking prominence. “We want to go back to work…  We know that you will not do the work yourselves,” they shouted. “So just put a 1 in front of the 5, so that we can get a 15 percent wage increase and we will go back to work! “ Shouts of AMANDLA!  POWER! Reverberated within the small enclave, translated the money workers want to be paid is 5, 500 to 7 000 ZAR , entry-level salaries a month.

But soon it was time for me to go…..


To the Johannesburg Stadium where  I was met with the unmistakable sound of Sipho Hotstix Mabuza’s Saxophone… playing  a classic bubblegum tune which took me  back to my childhood  days when we used to sing along to his famous track “Burn-out” replacing his English verse with vernacular, singing  “ Nkulunkulu Ng’celi ibiya, Nkulunkulu Ng’celi ibiya” Meaning “ God  I’m asking for beer please” as the song was often played amongst drinking adults in  Sheebens, Stockvels and parties s across the townships where beers such as Catstle, Lion were the order of the day,  my township  then was  Zone 2 Meadowlands Soweto, circa 1986.

This was a call to all South African men  to pledge to build safe and healthier communities. To Pledge:

“No Homophibia in My name”

“No Woman will be raped in My Name”

“No Woman will be infected with HIV/AIDS in my Name”

“No child will be abused in My Name”

The pledges printed boldly with Red, Black and White ink on cardboard banners strewn across the stadium and worn across female, male and children’s’ chests who were gathered there.

The music was good.  Even I had a little space to ‘shake my booty”.


The rally, organized by a group called “Brother’s for life” was a call to all men in South African men to pledge to a positive transformation in the country. There were paramedics, a Metro FM outside broadcasting van, water and everything else.  It seemed the event may have been well attended, but I was late.

Hotsticks’s Sax bellowed against empty blue chairs….. as some men and women tried to remember their dance moves from back in the day.

Clinical Psychologist and Traditional Healer Charles Ndaba Hlatshwayo, echoed my feelings.

“yes , it’s  a war, it’s a war against good and evil, the battle of Armageddon” He said.

“I think this has been a successful event” He continued “Now it’s time for us to take it to our communities”.

“I think what’s wrong with men to-day is FEAR, fear of the unknown “He said. “We need to let men know that there are options, they can test, and learn to manage the outcomes”


“If we had talked about this kind of transformation at schools, early on, we wouldn’t be facing this problem”

The source of the problem?

“A breakdown in the family structure is the main problem. Torture and Suffering, another.  Men don’t choose the way they are, they are because of social circumstances. You find men with problems, such as Surnames, the ancestors are fighting over – “Who’s name is it anyway “and there are traditional  rituals one needs to perform to correct this. The children are “paying” for their elder’s mistakes, secretes.  Do you know the meaning of the word Umfazi ?”(female) He asked me” The one who dies knowing” He told me. “Without thinking of the children who come after “He said. “Because they want to protect the Secretes’

I told him that he must tell the elders (ancestor’s) to solve the problems amongst themselves, because as a child born of conflicted identities, I cannot, in all honestly solve problems that existed before I was even born.  I am born of love and here to love.

All man to themselves and God for us all.

Peace & Love!

The Story Behind the story….

Home sweet  Home: A girl child arriving home (sky) from school
Home sweet Home: A girl child arriving home (sky) from school

2013-08-24. Ten years ago, South Africa marked ten years since non-racial democratic elections and rule in the country. In a continental context South Africa was the last country to be liberated in all of Africa, and in 2004 we celebrated 10 years of independence.  In light of this we were assigned to do feature radio news and current affairs stories for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to mark the auspicious event.  After doing some research on Kliptown and the freedom charter, I found the name of Ma Eva Mokoka, a community worker living in old Kliptown and had a long interview with her.  A nurse and midwife, she spent her entire life in the service of the Kliptown community and surrounding townships. Women traveled far to come to her clinic. I remember that scene, driving into Kliptown, a place so markedly different from the rest of the South Western Townships (SOWETO).There were no roads, not toilets, no electricity (and then in 2004, they still used the bucket system for ablution) You had to reduce  your driving speed to about 10km  per hour by car to make way. But I hoped things would change – especially as the government was building a multimillion rand Walter siSulu Square of Remembrance. A large grey monument in honour and recognition of what Kliptown represents in the country’s political history, just two railway tracks away. South Africa’s Freedom Charter was signed there, by close to 3000, black, white, coloured and Indian activists in 1955,  it cemented a  vision and goal for a brighter future.   There was no reason to doubt governments’ intentions.   2004 was also a National Election year, and political campaigning had already begun for the third democratic elections in the country. The spirit of hope was still high.

“They promised us that things would change” She said sitting heavily in her dark dining room.  The light barely catching the darkness inside, I suddenly felt cold.  “We’re still waiting, hoping” she said.  I didn’t know then that I would return to Kliptown and to that very house, years later and long after I had forgotten about the story.

This time, though, on a very different capacity, in search of my younger brother Peace. The last time I saw him was  after I had dropped him off to live with my late great –aunt, Nomvula . Before that he had been working  with  a local and internationally acclaimed artist Tracy Rose, on a project called XHomes in March 2010, the  year of  the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. The Project was funded by the Goethe Institute. Ma Eva also passed on the next Month in April, 2010.  XHOMEs was a very interesting artistic intervention and collaboration between South African and German artists.  The idea was simple – stage artistic performances using people’s homes as venues – while they continue with their normal lives in the background regardless of who comes in when and how.  There was a trail and all visitors had their own guide walking them to the different “performance” spaces marked by the Black, Red and Orange German flag.

I later found my brother there, later in the year, at the Soweto Kliptown Youth center (SKY), living and working as a handy man, sweeping the grounds, ensuring that the yard was kept clean. He had also formed a friendship with the man who still runs the center Bob Nameng. It was to be my own Khumbul’ekhaya episode. I didn’t understand his departure and later insistence on living there even after I had located him. The truth though was that my personal living circumstances had changed and I couldn’t live with him from the time of his disappearance. A few months later, in the new year, I found a place for both of us to live. But my journey to Kliptown Youth Centre would not end there.


A school boy living at Sky, back from school
A school boy living at Sky, back from school

On an assignment working for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation this year, I chose it as a place to tell South Africa’s complex story. In 2013, people in old Kliptown still don’t have roads, there’s still no electricity, there are new additions though, portable communal toilets and regular rubbish pick-ups.  There’s development all around but the Old Kliptown section. But the Norwegian broadcaster was not really interested in the story behind Kliptown and I thought that maybe I can do something. What? I didn’t know since many a publication had covered the Kliptown story and my own story which was broadcast on SABC’s flagship English news and current affairs radio station SAfm, did little to influence change.  The answer came with my brother telling me that he was organizing a fund-raising event at the center, which houses at least 45 vulnerable and orphaned girls and boys, provides food to at least 200 children in and around the community every day, and also provides after school classes for small children and the youth, who are involved in extracurricular activities such as drama, dancing etc.  I decided I would stage my play LINIDIWE! There, a play  I wrote and performed last year – as a hobby, something to use up my free time and ideas. I never thought about writing a play -the story just came to me one night.   LINDIWE a name which means “The one we are waiting for” in isiZulu, is set in a newsroom studio, and follows the breaking news  story of a Kings’ search for his missing cousin who is said to hold the answer to the Kingdom’s growing problems. I see it as a universal story about politics in my own personal family life my country and continent of Africa. It’s a call for me, for us to arrive and be the change we want to see in the world. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

I spoke to Bob Nameng and he agreed for me to perform there with the help of the SKY youth.  Pictured below.


Bob Nameng - former street kid, now he runs SKY.

Next Saturday (the 31st of August) I’ll be there to perform for the community and I am amazed at how ironic life can be and how life becomes interesting when the personal mixes with the professional. Sometimes I look at Sky in Old Kliptown and think maybe it’s planned to be that way, a kind of XHOME project. I sometimes think sometimes that maybe there is a sinister element in this place, maybe instead of building monuments, the government has decided to leave Kliptown as is; a real-life monument to “ see how they live” type of scenario, an example of how the majority of black South Africans used live under the Apartheid regime.  Why? Because everybody, including the local government knows about Kliptown, reams of newspaper copy have been written about it, but there’s still no change. The paved strip of road for pedestrians to walk and a bridge over the railway tracks are the only changes visible since the advent of democracy. But Kliptown – despite its history – is not unique, there are many such townships, another prominent one being Alex (Alexandra Township) bordering Johannesburg’s business district Sandton, whose living conditions are worse if not identical to Kliptown.  If it is a conspiracy it is an elaborate one and an over simplification of a very complex problem of how to achieve sustainable social development. I’ve lived long enough in this country to know that Bree taxi rank, used to be a muddy strip of land with nothing, where commuters had to wait in line come rain or shine for a taxi to take them where they wanted to go. Now there’s shelter, there are toilets; traders can trade in safety from environmental elements. I am not naïve. There’s improvement in the social conditions of black people, whether we choose to acknowledge that or not.   So elaborate conspiracies aside, I decided use this opportunity to be part of a solution, to live up to my name LINDIWE and do something towards inspiring positive change in the community, however small.

I also realized how important it is for me to “succeed” in my chosen profession, to move on, and not regress. How much we all need to break the cycle of poverty in whatever ways we can. A debilitating cycle of lack which my parents and Ma Eva Mokoka amongst many mothers and fathers fought (still fighting) so hard to prevent and avoid. I also need to be the change I seek in my own little world.

The Soweto Kliptown Youth foundation Ekasi Street Theater Exhibition fund-raising event is part of that initiative. It’s not often that a journalist gets an opportunity to ‘tangibly” change the problems we so often report on in our stories and though this is a long way to that change I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute – something. To raise awareness using everything I have in honour of Mam Eva’s exemplary life as a community builder, nurse and midwife.

Sky has now evolved, grown, from a once humble home and community clinic into a place where children can play, learn and get a warm meal a day.  A place, ironically, which did  what I couldn’t do, provide shelter for my brother and many others like him who found themselves, suddenly,  for whatever reason, with no place to call home.

This is my own small way of giving thanks.  Of saying Ngiyabonga!

“Surreal But Nice…”


rare moments of genuine laughter - more to come.
rare moments of genuine laughter – caught unaware

Romance Could Happen to YOU too…

These days finding reasons to smile and laugh can be as hard as trying to find a needle in a hay stack. Luckily through my younger  brother, Immie, – bless him – I have a copy of  Nottinghill (1999)the movie starring American actress Julia Roberts and British actor Hugh Grant, and regardless of my mood or how many times I’ve seen it, which has been many times, it still makes me laugh and laugh out loud. The dry British humour never fails and its interplay with its rival Americanese makes me laugh each and every time.

I like romantic comedies. I am coming out.  I won’t hide it anymore. Romantic comedies are a reminder to me one who is always so concerned about matters ever so serious that life is also equally if not  more importantly about play, enjoying life and having fun with laughter being the main essential ingredient.  The happiest people are those who have fun 80 percent of the time.  Fun is possible in Politics, in real love. Romance is just as possible.  I love romance.

Anyway  Julia Roberts pretty much plays herself in the character of a Hollywood A list Actress Anna Scott, who walks into  Hugh Grant’s  unassuming  character William Thacker ‘s travel book shop and purchases a book while Thacker deals with a petty  shoplifter who hides a book down his trousers: “ excuse me bad news… there are cameras in this bit of the shop”   is just one very polite line with which he persuades the shoplifter to return the book without him ever having to admit that he had in fact stolen it . As destiny would have it the two later bump into each other on the street – literally. Thacker spills orange juice all over Scotts’  white t-shirt and persuades her to go to his house to clean it off  saying ‘ I’m confident that in five minutes we can have you spik and span , in a none prostitute way obviously“;  referring to Julia’s role as a prostitute in the movie Pretty Woman. For a wanna be actress – the movie keeps me glued, in stiches; it’s well written and superbly performed by each actor, Spike, Thacker’s lodger being my most favourite character by far.

These are just a few of my favourite lines:

Spike to Thacker: ‘There’s something wrong with this yoghurt”

Thacker:” It’s not yoghurt it’s mayonnaise”

Spike continues eating “oh alright then”

Anna to Thacker after she kisses him “: Probably best not to tell anyone about this”

Thacker: “Right, right no-one, I mean I’ll tell myself about it sometimes but don’t worry I won’t believe it”

Thacker to Anna: “It was nice to meet you, surreal but nice” then after he closes the door berates himself wincing “surreal but nice, what was I thinking???”

My favourite part of the movie has to be the part where Thacker is invited to see Anna at the Ritz Hotel where she’s staying.  What Thacker does not realize when he gets there is that he’ll have to fall in line with a group journalists waiting to interview Anna Scott on her latest movie, which he’s never seen. He thinks he’s been invited to a private date with the star. Asked about which publication he’s from, he blurts out “Horse and Hound” the name of a magazine within eye shot. He brings her flowers, and walks into the interview room full of large and expensive bouquets of roses, embarrassed he launches into an excruciating mock interview in the presence of Scott’s publicists who huffs and puffs in displeasure – it’s hilarious.  He’s later roped into doing more interviews with other cast members without having seen the film which has a few gems such as…

Actor to Thacker: Did you enjoy the film?

Thacker: Yes Enormously

Actor: fire away then…

Thacker; “right did you enjoy making the film?

Actor: Yes, I did

Thacker:  “Good any bit in particular?”

Actor:  “You tell me which bit you enjoyed the most and I’ll tell you if I enjoyed making that bit”

This scene reminds me of a similar interview I did with Bollywood mega star Amitabh Bachchan in the early years of my career as a journalist, needless to say I knew nothing of Bollywood other than the dancing, let alone Amitabh! I mean the entire movie is full of great lines.  Anna later offers to accompany Thacker to his sister, Honey’s birthday dinner party as his date. Honey on meeting Anna gives the most droopingly impassioned fan monologue. .. Which is -just Classic!

Honey to Anna: “OH holy Fuck! Oh god this is one of those key moments in life when it’s possible you can be really genuinely cool and I… I’m going to fail just a hundred percent. I… I absolutely, totally and utterly adore you, and I just think you are the most beautiful woman in the world! And more importantly, I genuinely believed, and I have believed this for some time now that we could genuinely be best friends! What do you think?” then later adds “Oh marry Will, he’s a genuinely nice guy and then we could be sisters!”

On a morbid note, just to illustrate my point – and not to spoil the fun, during an interview with SABC’s veteran journalist Sophie Mokoena, notorious–serial killer Joe Mamasela said he coped with the trauma of killing and torturing people, through humour.  “Humour helped me deal with it” he said.

This basically means, no matter what you’re going through ( Mamasela’s example aside) – if you can laugh about it, you can get through just about anything!

If you love literature and movies, go watch the movie!  Again. Doctor’s orders.

Notting Hill is one of my most favourite Romcoms by far!

WHY: JHB People’s Pride and Economic Freedom Fighters(EFF) Raise More Questions than Answers.







March Because…..

18 August 2013. I observed with keen interest discussions at the Johannesburg’s People’s Pride Organizers meeting, held at the woman’s goal at the Constitution Hill this weekend.  The meeting comprised of mostly black, lesbian activists who were planning an alternative Pride March to the Existing annual JHB Pride in October, due in large part to the fact that JHB pride turns a blind eye to the tide of “corrective” rape incidents  against black-lesbians living in black townships.  The split comes after staged protests by members of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Project, FEW and One in Nine and others during JHB PRIDE 2012. See article here, which resulted in verbal and physical altercations between JHB pride Organizers and the mostly black lesbian and queer activists.

At the meeting many of the activists wore T-shirts with the statement “I march because…” and on reading them I found I could not fill in the gap. Why? Because the meeting left me, with more questions than answers. Here we are, young abled black women sitting in the Historic Women’s goal, used to imprison women including those who were anti-apartheid activists during the oppressive Apartheid government, organizing a march to demand legal rights which are already guaranteed in the country’s Bill of Rights and the Country’s Constitution. WE HAVE THEM.

The organizers kept highlighting that the JHB People’s March was not only about black lesbians but also about women. This is true. Lesbians are women. Women are raped in South Africa on a daily basis, but they are not all gay, and they are not all, black.  Rape, violence, domestic abuse are not social ills suffered only by black lesbians in the township, they are faced by almost all women, regardless of their sexual orientation or race for that matter.  The horrific story of   Olympic Sprinter Oscar Prestorious  killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp is just a drop in a sea of similar stories across South Africa.  All races black, white, Indian, coloured, Chinese, other – all women are  at risk of rape, domestic violence and abuse, even murder. Black women are in the majority, and that’s the only difference.   So how does the Johannesburg People’s Pride March, which is largely comprised of black Lesbians –reach out to all these other groups of women who are suffering just like them?

Why aren’t all women taking to the streets and  marching for their rights? The answer to that is quite simple. We are marching for something we already have – as far as I know the laws of the country have not changed:  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex  ( LGBTQI) people  are guaranteed  the same equal rights, as all (heterosexual ) women in the country, in fact all South Africans – by law have equal rights. So why should the LGBTIQ community receive extra special treatment?  When today, Heterosexual women suffer just the same amount of abuse, rape etc. as black lesbians. Femicides are not limited to women in the LGBTQI community.  Rape is Rape. Straight or Gay. Male or Female.

How can we hope to have our struggles heard if we only campaign for narrow interests on an an issue affecting the majority of women in the country, when according to current rape statistics, 144 women are raped a day?

Why I won’t join…

I also read with Interest Andile Mngxitamas article in the city press today “Why I didn’t Join Agang SA” after two invitations from party leader Mamphele Ramphele early last year. He lists seven reasons – all stitched together by a common thread of race politics, saying Agang SA does not serve black interests.  According to him there is nothing new on offer from AgangSA, and the party is based on an “ill defined “South African consciousness”.  But whose interests does the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) under the leadership of Julius Malema prioritize or serve? If AgangSA offers nothing new for South Africa today then no other party does, except perhaps for the Democratic Alliance, which so far has one good thing going for it – Immediate Actions that bring about change. Whether those changes serve the narrow interest s of the white Minority and or Private Business interest, one thing is for sure, if the DA complains, change happens, actions are taken. That is the Party’s greatest asset.  The DA is seen to be doing something, seen to be efficient.  That’s why its white constituency, and increasingly black, Coloured, Indian, Chinese and including young people continue to vote for i. That’s why the DA is the official opposition.  Everybody, including Andile Mngxitama himself, wants to live in a country that works, with a functioning public SERVICE sector, which actually SERVES the people and why would anyone say No to that?

Just Do It…

To bring about social change we must DO  something, act in ways that actually change the situation.

What is the EFF actually doing to bring about change? How many times will Black people, women, queers, the marginalized majorities and minorities have to march before their needs are met?

It seems to me that the only way to change is to do something.  Instead of planning yet another protest march, instead of forming YET another political party – Let us DO something DIFFERENT – Let’s organize and roll out a  Massive volunteer “program” to each and every community across the country, using the unemployed youth, job seekers, retired professionals, everyone who is able, to make South Africa work, not only for the moneyed minority, but especially for the majority of all South Africans.


Let’s use all the knowledge and experience, the same strategies, tactics, massive organizing, guerrilla warfare tactics, all the mechanisms used to topple Apartheid to  to unleash and implement  an army of volunteers and deploy them  in their own communities – at all police stations, all clinics , all public  hospitals, all courts, schools and universities, NGOS,  all sections of the public sector, to help those  people already committed to public service, to make all of those institutions meant to serve the people to do just that?  And by volunteers I don’t mean “observers” I mean people who will do the WORK, the manual labour required to ensure that public hospitals  and clinics are clean at all times, ensure that all patients regardless of race, age, gender and class are treated with care, and are assisted in getting the help they need.  Simple things like pushing patients in hospital waiting areas to their wards, to get oxygen, to do all the basic running around.   Have all unemployed youth working at the same places where public service officials desperately need help or face a lack of capacity, where they are underfunded.  At all public schools, doing what’s needed be it, cleaning, helping teachers, with extra classes. Have matriculates, graduates without work, teach, write statements at police stations, explain the law, or just explain how things work, inform and communicate the people’s rights to the public. We need people to literally fill in the gaps and I mean physically with our own HANDS and FEET. A network of volunteers, helping children cross the street, do their home-work etc. That is what is needed.  For resources, clearly we have more than enough money – politicians don’t even know  what to do with it, we can give some direction. Use OUR money also known as public funds, all the money spent on parties, expensive shoes and other trivial things in government for skills, training and compensation for “actual work done” by those volunteers.

This in my opinion will solve multiple problems at once. In the case of the LGBTQI community ( I don’t believe that their sexual orientation or preferences  will matter if they are seen making a positive contribution, not only just to serve their own interests  – but for the larger broader community in which they occupy) The volunteer program will also serve as a foundation for skills training, that will eventually result in gainful employment – then we won’t have people who are “unemployed”  while allowing trained public servants the time and space to  focus on doing  the work that they were trained to do, this will result in a seamless skills transfer program.  The public service will then become – physically accountable – to the public and whatever laws which don’t serve the people can be challenged in court based on the rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.  We did that with the FIFA WORLD CUP in 2010 and many other major international commercial events in the country. Surely, surely, we can do the same for ourselves?   Any party that will DO that – is guaranteed a vote from me.

You don’t need Permission…

And guess what? Surprise, surprise!   We don’t even need anyone’s permission to do this.  We don’t need anybody’s permission to volunteer, to make a positive change, we just need to  decide to do it and do it. Go and ask for the broom at you local police station and start sweeping, and make it your daily employment, your job. You don’t need to apply.

Also very importantly you don’t need to be a card carrying member of any political party to volunteer, you don’t need to join one or form one.  Wherever you are, if you see the need – be the change –  that’s needed. Step in and offer to help. Not just for one day, but everyday. All the time. It’s a way of life.

We don’t need any more marches or protests or side-shows. We don’t need any more Political Organizations. The ones we have are more than enough. We are the PARTY.  We have the power in our hands, to vote and support only what we want.  We just need to be concerned always with being an active solution right where we are,  to the change that’s needed,  the answer to the problem. To act. We the public can ensure that we have  access to proper health care, education, justice. We can do it where we are now. We can make the bill of rights and our country’s constitution and make it  a living document, no one else can do that for us. The next 20 years starting from now, today should be all ABOUT that.  We are LINDIWE! We are the ones we have been waiting for.  We can all do it together simultaneously. We have strength in numbers. Our hands can make the change. The law is on our side. Let’s make it work for us.  We are the solutions to our own problems.  Not the West or  nor our former colonizers, or China not the system or its politicians, or the government officials we EMPLOY.  Truth be told, honestly? It’s in our hands. The only way to change – is to do something different and not more of the same.  Start where you are.


Jedi Ramalapa

The Love Walk to Freedom

Already looking like a Ruby.
power plus love  equals peace

It took me a while to get to it, but I am glad I finally did. Tata Nelson Mandela’s autobiography: The Long Walk to Freedom. I understand him, just a little bit more now, and I get the ANC even better. My Wake up call came very early on in my life, but for some reason I didn’t quite wake up to it fully, I was somehow blinded by so many things that this life had to offer only to discover that they are all a means to an end. We have a higher purpose – Mandela met his as far as one single individual operating in a collective can – that purpose is for love which brings freedom and that freedom is perpetual and interlinked, we are only as free as our neighbour is free, and until we are all free – there will be no freedom. Through the book I traveled to a country of extreme oppression and poverty, of repression and authoritarian rule where – a life other than slavery is punishable by  death. I came out into 2013 and still find the country still in the same extreme states of oppression, poverty, repression and authoritarian rule and wondered – what happened? Today in my own country, we commemorate the Marikana Massacre on August 16 2012 where at least 34 striking Lonmin miners were, gunned down, attacked and killed by the state police, today in Egypt the massacre in the same style is taking place. I see how the systematic introduction of capitalism has continued to reinforced the status quo of historical and present day  slavery all around the world:, religion, tribalism, xenophobia, homophobia, race, the banking systems, even our most cherished democracies are all just tools to suppress any legitimate, honest, revolution by the people. Everywhere i look are rules and regulations, laws and treaties, massive multi-national agreements that could plant forests in the remotest of deserts, all tools and mechanisms meant to form the largest factory of mindless workers, people, supporters  and followers of the system. We are controlled from the minute the authorities are informed of our existence, and the indoctrination continues through school, books, the foods we eat, the clothes we wear, the music we listen to, the pictures we watch, what’s good and bad, everything – then – religion is used to cement the indoctrination leaving almost no room for escape for people who are told they have no power over their lives or existence that they can do nothing else but follow the rules to live in peace. There are so many hurdles on the path to freedom…and all of them begin with you refusing to turn a blind eye to injustice…on your brother or sisters’Image suffering and pain. Ultimately it’s about love, self love, because you can never love another until you love yourself and only when you truly love yourself can you see that you are the same with everyone else, regardless of colour, creed, language or class.  With love comes power….only the power of love can change the world.

The Bride Price…The Urge to Merge and other matters…

Rhythm, a sequence in time repeated, featured ...
Rhythm, a sequence in time repeated, featured in dance: an early moving picture demonstrates the waltz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Farm auction, Derby, Conn.  (LOC)
Farm auction, Derby, Conn. (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

I never thought I would say this but there comes a time in a woman’s life when they have to seriously consider the possibility of getting settled. Get married. Have a baby. Form/create a partnership.  And with the world being as it is, it’s not always easy to choose or to know what the best route is, and so one invariably has to look back, and side to side ,  to the past and the present  considering all the issues that are involved – and there are many issues to consider – and then decide on a path.  And here I will tell a story to illustrate my point from a very different perspective.

I used to enjoy dancing and would go out to my favourite dancing spots to dance the night away, in Johannesburg the city of lights. I had three favourite places because there I was almost always guaranteed to have a good time, or at the very least have an opportunity to unleash all my tension on the dance floor. The House of Nsako  and later the Tandoor, for reggae music and the Open Closet. The latter was a queer party event for women which came up once each month. I always looked forward to going there,  it a great chance to dance freely amongst women who love each other. Though I was single for the most part, I never saw it as a platform to solicit a relationship of any sort though I never ruled out the possibility. At one of these parties they arranged a female underwear fashion show and an Auction for a date with one of the hot girls who would be modeling a new range of queer female underwear – boxers for girls in short.  I was in a festive jubilant and positive mood ( they would be modeling my  favourite underwear, which I was also wearing  that night so I was really excited).  When  the time for bidding came I raised my hands in a bid for a chance to go out on a date with one of the models, I was enjoying myself. As it turned out I was the highest bidder for one of the hottest and most attractive girls on stage (at least that was my own biased assesment ). For 500 Rands (50USD) I could go on a date with her. I think I was still stunned that I had succeeded in my bid when the organizers took my details and told me that they would contact me in due cause to make the arrangements. Score!

The party went on, and I was too elated dancing to even see where the girl I had bid so much money on was.  The next week they contacted me, informing me that I would have to make a deposit first and then they will give me her details with which to arrange the meeting. I asked out of interest if the girl was single, they said no but she would be willing to come on a date with me regardless. I said I would think it over.  The next day I called them and said based on the fact that she was in a relationship I would not continue with the payment, and the subsequent date  as my assumption was that I would be going out on a date with a single woman, which would increase the chances of a  possible friendship that could lead to something more substantial, so it was no longer in my interest, I told them, to spend money on someone that already” belonged” to someone else, it didn’t make sense from an investment point of view  or a personal point of view as I didn’t want to have to sit on a date spending time and money on someone who would  be going back to their partner that same night. It just didn’t feel right for me. They saw my point. So I passed up a chance to go out with a hot mama based on the fact that she was  already committed , and though I didn’t realize it at the time, I now secretly praise myself for my decision, which was in my opinion  a very principled one, though very much unpopular at the time. Of course there are other parts of the story, but I concluded that what they had done was tantamount to false advertising.  The meeting would not be beneficial for me. Take it or leave it. I have since made less considered choices when it comes to love. .

I always thought that love was enough of an ingredient to keep two people together. I was sufficiently indoctrinated by the movies I watched, and seriously believed at some point that there is someone for everybody and when you meet them you’ll know.  Through books I was introduced to the innate unfaireness  on women, who are forced   and expected to choose between having a family and having successful careers as if those were mutually exclusive. I always felt that it was so wrong that women always had to rely on men for the most basic things, a roof over one’s head and general security in life, I always wondered why it is  that women had to give up everything they love in order to have a family and some form of stability in their lives.  But it’s not like that today. At least for some women  and new forms of partnerships are emerging which are truly equal in a sense that though both parties my need to compromise,  they find a way of being happy in their chosen situation.   As I grow older and have now eclipsed the big old 30 by two years, I am questioning my own reasons for and against settling down.

I am starting to wonder about many things,  and on the top of that list is the question:  Is love enough? Is it really love that you feel  when you meet someone for the first time?  Does love at first sight exists? In what conditions does love grow and flourish?

The thing is I have never really sat down with myself and thought about what kind of partner (ship) I would like to have.  What kind of person would want to be with me, no choose to be in a lifelong relationship with me. Am I the kind of partner that someone would like to bid their lunch money on? What benefits do I have to offer? So as a result I have often found myself in relationships that were at best vague and at worst non-existent.  Finding out that you’re  in a relationship with yourself, i.e  The person with whom you think you are in a relationship with is actually not in it with you , is a very hard pill to swallow.  All this time I was just a temporary arrangement, a means to an end.  But I have used people in a similar fashions too at some point in my life (and though that may not have been an explicit intension on my part) not defining the terms of the relationship made that outcome almost inevitable.

So I  have a different  understanding of  the whole institution of marriage from that experience,  it’s often not enough to say you love someone, they (you) must have ‘prospects’  money, assets that could make the partnership worthwhile for both parties, especially where parents and families are involved. Last year I had a chance to consider the possibility quite seriously but as fate would have it, in time I discovered that given the current climate one would really have to love someone for real in order to make such a commitment or alternatively  have enough money to make the partnership worthwhile. So whereas before I went through a period of wondering if love like that is possible, of going through my history and checking if I have anything of value to offer another person, I soon realized, that though I would most definitely benefit from a self-improvement course, money and fame, and a prominent, influential position of power in society –  all those things cannot guarantee me real love – what it would do, is guarantee that I would always be with someone /people who loved those things.  The auction  being a case in point. Love grows, so they might come to love me, but it would be a risky affair if there was no love there  in the first place. So when the fame, money, positions go, so does the love.

So how does one find love? Should love be the only consideration in a relationship? So the hot  girl, though in a relationship with someone was willing to go out with me because she was being paid? it was her job? a chance to get a free lunch? “ she wanted out of the relationship?’ I don’t know her circumstances, but there has to be something she loved there – money perhaps or food or her job  or the freedom to meet people, but I was not prepared to pay 500 rands to find out.  So I figure, love is always present when people get together. I love his money, I love the fame – I could be famous too,  I could learn so much,do things i never thought to do, experience more etc, I love knowledge, I love politics, I love her friends, her family, status, education, generosity, gentleness, inquisitiveness, a number of things. We want to be with people who have or posses certain traits, characters that we aspire to.  Isn’t that the general advice, if you want to be a doctor, hang out with doctors etc? So in essence being with someone with whom you share nothing or very little in common becomes somewhat of a challenge, if there is nothing about then than interests you.  The choices become even simpler, it’s either you want to go with that person or you don’t.  Knowing the difference is the key. My brother was asking me the other day why we generally react differently to friends and family.  He was telling me how people always marveled at our relationship making comment such as “She’s your sister? Wow you guys look like such friends” I’ve also had people confess to me that they would also love to have a cool relationship with their sisters. It feels good. But that always leaves me puzzled because I don’t see the difference.  But there is a difference in how we treat each other and that has a lot to do with what people share in common, memories, dreams, activities, jobs. It’s like you live in your dream and in that dream you are creating there are  people who also believe in your dream, and those people are your friends.   So unless you share common dreams and aspirations I truly don’t see how a marriage or partnership would survive unless there is something else that you love more  – than the person –  that you would be marrying into , that thing that you love more, will decide whether you stay in a relationship or leave.  So it’s what we have in common that keeps us together – thieves and gangers – are all kept together by the same desire of finding the easiest best way of stealing and terrorizing people while making a maximum profits. Love keeps people together without which people will always find a way to escape. Often we go after what we love (which normally consists of things that money can buy) and forget about the person.  So one might understandably confuse their love and admiration for someone’s career, achievements, business acumen, physique, character i.e. things that you most probably want to do or be yourself as love  for that person, it is real love for them because whatever it is they are in for they love it, love is real even in that scenario but it is entirely different to what we think of it in real-time.

Once they stop having the money, the position of power, the beauty, the knowledge, you “outgrow” them or find that you can be any of those things without that person so you move on to where you’ll find something you love, if there’s no LOVE, if none exists everything becomes a means to an end.   So we say love is gone, which is not true. So the more two people share – in love – if you love doing the same things, there more you are inclined to want to be together because you share common love interests, once you stop sharing those love interests or if one of the people in the relationships love interest’s change – then that puts the whole relationship into question.

Obviously you’ll want to spend more time with people that do and are in pursuit of the same things you love, so you’ll stay out, and choose them over anyone or anything else most of the time, and when you’re not involved in doing the things you will love you look for opportunities that will get you there.

So yes it’s possible – the movies are not entirely wrong, and neither are the books  nor is lived  experience. It is possible that you can truly love someone  truly love someone for who they are – regardless of what they have to offer, but in order to do that completely, you have to love yourself  first , wholeheartedly and without exception.  What do I mean? Well if you’re not fulfilled in your individual life (dream), you look to a relationship for all the love, so the person becomes in a more crude way, a servant, someone you expect to brighten your day, motivate you, make you laugh, tell you you’re beautiful, shower you with gifts, listen to you, be your friend, touch you a certain way, your legal adviser, financial adviser, money provider (to buy you things that make you happy) roof provider, hair provider, sperm provider –  basically your everything. And no one can be everything for anyone person though at times it may seem that way. Relationships like that don’t often last and are often filled with the  feeling of guilt and resentment,  she’s got no-one else – I can’t leave her, you are my everything you can’t leave me etc.  so instead of looking for love in one person, I have decided that the best way to “find” and sustain love is to fill my life with thoughts, actions and words of  love, so that my ability to live a love filled life  would be independent  of the person I will come to share my life with, so when I meet them I will love them for who they are, not what they are willing /able to offer or what I feel I can get from them because I have enough love in my  own life theirs will be the icing on the Cake. That way I will love with absolute confidence and freedom and love without fear – of losing – because where there is love, there is no fear. The more love I fill in my life there more I will find myself in situations where more and more love can grow, flourish and blossom, it’s not about saying – it: I love you. It is about living it, finding love in everything and everyone or at the very least things that I like whether it is in my chosen profession, the things I choose to do in my spare time, relationships with friends and family however tedious the only motivation for anyone to do anything is LOVE. More and more each day I learn that the power of love is so much greater, better and infinitely more wonderful  than anything I ever imagined it to be. And I LOVE IT!



1980, Austin, TX. I took it in very poor light...
American Poet, Writer, Activist : Audre Lorde.  (love her)

I’m following up on my previous post “One in Three Men Rape” with another story. This despite the fact that my second to last sentence to that blog was I won’t list the many incidents where refusing to have sex puts women in the dog box, but I thought I should mention this one as I think it’s particularly important in shaping young people’s minds and attitudes  in how they negotiate sex and sexuality. It also points directly to some possible “outcomes” of what can happen to you – if you dare, to speak out. I also want to add to the last post by saying that I do believe that both men and women suffer if they refuse to consent to persistent sexual advances, regardless of where they come from, but since it is women’s month and I am a woman I will continue to write from those “particular” perspectives.  August is WOMENs’ month in South Africa. This story I don’t often tell to too many people – even though it’ s much more harmless than the previous one  – because for some reason it still embarrasses me – and strangely bares some striking similarities to the incident I wrote about in my previous blog. This story, like the one I wrote about before,  I think can help us begin to understand the nuanced  reasons /contexts to why girls and women would hesitate to speak out or report  sexual abuse, assault, much less rape.


Don’t touch me on My “Studio


I was 13 – thirteen was a big year for me – in grade seven.  We were in  English class and I was quite enthralled by our English teacher,  a tall blonde woman,  probably in her early to mid-20’s at the time who spoke loudly and hurriedly, she had a lot of energy about her and would always be walking up and down the front of the class as if warming up for a marathon, hands flailing in the air,  her short blond hair always flowing as if  there was a wind blowing constantly on her face, oh wait there was,  she loved to sigh loudly breathing out air into her forehead making her fringe blow up like it was under a hair drier.  She was very expressive.  I am now guessing that the boys in our class must have adored her, but I guess I was also too occupied looking at her to notice anyone else doing the same thing.  She liked to wear short- khakhi skirts, had long masculine but lean legs, whose feet she lightly cushioned on open leather sandals, even during winter. Now that I think of it she must have grown up in a farm or in the great endless outdoors of the expansive Savannah somewhere idyllic.  She often wore loose fitting shirts, some a little transparent that would reveal, ever so slightly, whenever she bent down (which was often) the curve of her tiny breasts.  She was also friendly and seemed more approachable than many of the older, more serious and graying teachers at our school.


As luck would have it I was sitting in front, sharing a desk with Patrick, a male classmate with whom I liked to compete academically.   We were friends, but not in the “I like you – be my – girlfriend kind of way” I was not the most attractive girl in class fortunately.  While listening to whatever the teacher was saying I heard him whisper to me saying “can I?” Can you what? I asked looking at him, his eyes looked down and I followed them to find his hand inching closer and closer to my pelvic area under the table/school desk. He pleaded sheepishly with his eyes and I said no. don’t. But he didn’t listen, persisting each chance he got, while staring, intently and directly at the teacher in front him –he  would attempt to touch me, reaching out his hand like a thief in the night. I saw that my deflections didn’t deter him – so on his  next  more bolder move I grabbed his hand and creamed  out loud “ MA’M! PATRICK IS TRYING TO TOUCH MY VAGINA!!!!!”  My only  recourse. There was dead silence in the class-room; many had never quite heard (much less I) the word vagina being shouted so loudly in class. And then as if a wave enveloped the room, laughter swelled, in starts, spurts and then finally poured out  and like a huge waterfall filling the room,  even I joined in the laughter,  for a while until the teacher after having recovered from the shock of her life – calmed the class down and asked Patrick why he was doing that,  he denied it loudly,” no ma’m she’s lying!” he said “ I didn’t,  never ever” with a conviction  even I believed the moment he said it.  The teacher then turned her attention to me “why are you lying?”  She asked,   I replied “No I would not lie about something like that” I continued, “I felt speaking out was my only option under the circumstances since I didn’t want him to touch my vagina!” I said that word again, and more laughter erupted like a second baptism in the room.   She then said I should not accuse people of things they never didn’t do.


So I was embarrassed, but was successful in preventing a situation, that would have brought harm to my person or just simply a situation I didn’t want.


My Teacher dealt with the situation the easiest way she could (or was even equipped to) saying I must never accuse people of things they never did.  Because fact: Patrick did not touch my vagina.    The reason he didn’t however, was because I spoke out, I shouted his intentions out loud, interrupting him, embarrassing him, shaming him and putting the Teacher in a difficult situation.


What would you have done?


So I’m sure some girls saw how ridiculed I was in class, and disregarded by the teacher (who “confirmed” Patrick’s version that I was a liar by saying I must not accuse people of things they never did) and felt that maybe if the same thing were to happen to them they would not speak out, because then they would become the laughing stalk of school – we were a hundred or less students at our school – the entire school would know.  Everyone knew everybody.  And on top of that you will forever be called a liar!  Which, if you’re a teenager (girl) does not leave you with much of a choice….


My lessons?


That experience is teaching me new lessons  – the benefit of hindsight:, A) Speaking out can “prevent” harm – he didn’t succeed in touching me in the end B) Speaking out can cause harm to myself: being labeled – a liar by a teacher- isolated, rejected by my peers “how can you say that about Patrick?” for Patrick was put to shame momentarily, he was popular( loved by many) and C) no one would believe me even if I said it – spoke my truth because I had no way of Proving it.  D) I still had to speak out anyway if it’s the only way to “stop” an unwelcome thing from happening, even if I’m the only one seeing/experiencing it E) Speaking out can CHANGE things:  we soon got individual desks and chairs which reduced the opportunities for anyone with the mind to make similar advances, even though I cannot prove that it was because of that particular incident that we got new furniture. And finally it taught me, in practical ways, to paraphrase American poet and writer Audre  Lorde – F) that Your Silence will not  PROTECT you.


In other words we don’t have to wait for something bad to physically happen before we speak out against it.