WHAT IS THIS: WEATHER TALK?

SUN-KISSED

It’s been very hot lately. It’s becoming a little hard to breathe-in the hot dry air, whose rays’ send salty fluids dripping down spines causing sporadic hot flashes which leave parched lips agape. This  heat made me think of something I once said to a man who was pursuing me in the dead of winter. We had been on a date-ish. As he was dropping me off at home he leaned in to kiss me and I backed away saying no. Offended he asked why. What must I do? I mean I’ve done everything a man should do on a date, why can’t you kiss me? As I sat there looking at him – I knew that nothing in me could see that happening and not wanting to offend him I said. You are like the wind, a huge big hurricane which forces me to not only want to keep my clothes on but to hold on to them for my dear life. What I would like is someone who is like the sun, which makes me so hot that I can’t help but take my clothes off, piece by damp piece.  After a long moment of silence he said I’m the most difficult girl he’s ever met and he sped off angrily in his vintage sports car, one of three he has parked in his garage. He told me earlier.

ICE-COLD

It’s been so hot lately. It’s so hot that I found myself sitting across from my mother licking ice cream off cones trying not to feel conscious of my long tongue.  I was listening to her counselling a friend about companionship: There are three kinds of people in this world she says to him. Those who have no desire for marriage and all that comes with it, and those like us, who do. When are you getting married? Because I want to come to your wedding she concluded. I was very happy not to be the focus of this conversation as I licked my ice-cream like a four year old girl enjoying a rare treat. I feel like having another one my mother said between her impromptu counselling sessions. But maybe I shouldn’t, this is my second one. I wanted to taste and see if there is a difference. I didn’t want the grainy ice-cream which is rough on your tongue. Let’s go to the beach, I said sucking up the last bit of ice-cream from the soaked wafer. Not today she said, it’s too hot.

SCORCHING-HEAT

It’s been so hot lately. The only time I feel cool and dry is when I’m in my room. Indoors. It is so hot it reminds me of something I once said to two friends during a similarly hot day when despite my flimsy yellow dress I found myself in their car wet between my thighs, under my arm pits, my neck and between my breasts, my back and buttocks, my legs  and toes, arms and fingers. I could peel my skin off it was so tender. The heat was so intense I was beginning to feel slightly delirious. A bit light-headed, all I wanted to do was to lie down, naked and prostrate somewhere cool. Then I said something which I had never thought of before until then. I said, it’s so hot it feels like I’m having sex with God, I mean the sun. I am sticky all over. My friends thought it an interesting if not blasphemous idea. One of them said, write a poem about it. I thought no. I’m too scared. I could melt away.

WILD-FIRES

All the wars I’ve been to have taken place in summer. Which reminds me of a story my sister told me recently. It’s true. Of a man who is suspected of burning his mother’s house down a few months ago. The house was paid off and fully furnished. A beautiful home which is now only ashes. On the day it burned his mother got a call informing her that she had won a mysterious prize, lunch at Spur. It was during that time as she sat eating her ribs and chicken that her house burnt down. An elderly woman, she along with her son, the main suspect in the arson case the police have opened, are now renting a house together somewhere.

Nobody knows his motive except the man, if he is indeed the arsonist. He was not at home when it happened and he was quoted saying he doesn’t know what he would have done had he been there when the fire broke out.  This made me think about my childhood and all the times when I asked my parents for something. They often said they did not have money. I did not burn the house down. Despite my frustration. Why would he? maybe its the weather.

 YOU MUST DRINK IT.

“wo-ter, wo-ter, wo-ter, wo-ter” that’s how my 18 month old nephew asks for water and despite what you are busy with, you have give him water because you know he can’t do it himself. Even if he could at that age he’s more likely to make a huge mess, spilling it all over himself and on the floor. Wasting most of it without drinking a single drop. You also know that without water he can’t live. So you have to stop what you are doing and give him the water until he’s able to get it himself, without spilling, wasting or drowning. It’s a human thing to do.

IT’S LOVE.

Which got me thinking  that  that’s what we all need. Water.  Not only in  the current heat of summer but in every single season of our lives. In fact it just might be the  one sure way of getting anyone  to open up, get naked,  even kiss you.

Get them wet. Let it rain!

“One day you will take me completely out of myself and I will do what the angels cannot do – Rumi

 

 

 

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FEESMUSTFALL: RIGHT OF ADMISSION RESERVED.

I refuse to allow what I did,  what I didn’t do or what I should’ve done to effect what I’m about to do” – Unknown

I have been hesitant to comment on the #FeesMustFall tornado which has all manner of tongues stamping, feet wagging, and fingers facing every direction in South Africa today. I have been hesitant because my relationship with institutions of higher education in this country has been fractured, damaged and almost non-existent to say the least. I have been hesitant because I am not innocent. I am guilty of unmentionable crimes committed both as a student and more recently, an educator.

I wasn’t going to say anything because of my shame.  And because I am neither an academic, a scholar nor a social, political or economic scientist. I am not an anthropologist, apologist, activist, communist, socialist or capitalist. I am what you may call a sentimental opportunist inclusive curious humanoid. I am of a generation of anti-heroes, raised on a steady diet of bubble-gum music, laced with mandrax,  dagga wrapped in newspapers, castle and lion beer. I skip to the tune of skop die bolo, mgusha, mellow yellows and heita.  I’ve jumped over tins and ducked under balls made of discarded plastic bags. I have run, skipped, hopped and laughed to stories told with stones and later vigorously stenciled into exercise books with yellow Bic pens which perforated the wooden surface on our primary school desks.

I know of m’china, s’thupha, the dice, marbles, toppies, Ray Phiri and stokvels. I am powered by amalahle, amagwinya with snoek fish, mangola, achar for breakfast and for desert- sherbet or ice.

I’ve snacked on skopas, maotoana and sniffed at the sight of dried mopane worms.

These memes I know. I understand them to be the fabric of my childhood environment, when I was impatient to start school and meet my first primary school teacher Mrs Meno, because the streets were empty –and I had no one to play with at home.

I know the sound of sofasonke, stay-aways and school singing competitions at uncle toms’ hall. Felt the rustic speed of a Putco bus propelled by children chanting – irobe joe asi ya gago joe keya magoa joe! On the way to see animals caged in a Johannesburg zoo. I know the tone of Chicos  Twalas’ we miss you manelo, and can sing and toi toi  to Blondie Makhene’s struggle songs in my  sleep. I’ve tried to make glue by whisking sunlight soap, grass and water  together never once succeeding in my experiments. I’ve listened intently to  stories of elaborate expeditions to steal raw peaches  from  white farms during school holidays, I have cooked mud meals garnished with rocks, onions and discarded tomato peels. I’ve been chased by dogs while taking a doublap over a neighbours rusty meshed fence or stop-nonsonso.

I know about Leselo rula, V, Mcgyver, Michael knight, the A-team, Ramathlale, Meenamoo, Nkusheng, Matiti le Senthaolele. Not to mention Samantha.

I’ve waved to white soldiers in army trucks patrolling Moemesie Street with the same fervour, passion and enthusiasm I used to chase after a minivan screaming “die botlolo” in exchange for cheese curls poured into bowls,  dirty dresses and t-shirts. I’ve cried to the sting of senzeni na, hamba kahle mkhoto and Siyabonga baba laced with tear gas without knowing why.

I’ve dreamt of becoming a superstar like Brenda Fassie, of wearing long braids, of singing “no, no,no,nononononono, senor – please, please don’t do this to me and appearing on SABC tv.

I dreamt of going to exile in America like our neighbours and desired to be a part of a secret movement whose name we could not mention out-loud on buses which shipped boys to unknown destinations at dusk. My feet burning to the tune of mercy pakela’s lyrics: “Ayashisa amateki – this is not my size”, in the haze of dust illuminated by the yellow flood of appollos powered by the danger-gevaar in our street.

I have woken up to the sound of my uncles screams, as armed soldiers lashed his back on the green  kitchen table. My grandmothers watching.

Despite changing schools seven times in 12 years, I have miraculously through a process of hard work, persistence, prayer and a gentle push from my parents’ money, my own curiosity and a will of steel,  pure luck even,managed to achieve three of those goals,  wearing long braids, appearing on SABC TV and going to  America for a visit.

So I have nothing to complain about.  I am not a victim. I am a winner, like Nelson Mandela in Invictus.  The captain of my very own soul.

Or so Boris tells me.

A former (retired) Wits University professor of engineering – a disciple of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, who believes that evolution not time, is God. That Biology, genetic coding and memory determines which ideas live and which die. Who succeeds and who fails. Which civilizations continue to exist and which will become extinct. That #FeesMustFall is a misconception by people who have a foot loose relationship with facts and logic. People without a conception of physics, mathematics, economics or problem solving abilities. A former informant and sympathizer of the African National Congress, an operative of  Umkhonto weSizwe, he dreamt of planting a bomb in Vanderbiljpark. He did this largely because he knows what it is like to be a victim. He was bullied at school and relentlessly punished with a tjambok by his English father.  Who would have disowned him had he learnt of his involvement in the struggle back then but who instead recently left him a megalomaniacal inheritance the size of Trumps’  head which left him buzzing on hot coffee at a corner café in Melville.

 He is against Authoritarianism.

Of course he is all for free education. He is interested in Biko’s Black Consciousness ideas which he absolutely agrees with, having just recently watched Cry Freedom (1987) a  British film on Biko’s life  featuring Denzel Washington  and Kevin Kline. Where could he find his book? What’s its title? Yes, I write what I like.  Black people are right not to take advice on how to do things from White people. Contrary to common belief their ways of life and culture is better suited to  this environment (Africa).

But what would decolonizing the university mean? 

He asks. Because decolonizing education presupposes that there were African or black universities in existence before colonization to begin with? Wasn’t Biko himself educated by civilizing missionaries in Africa? Wasn’t Biko in fact a prototype of an English gentleman? Where would the money to fund free-education come from when everybody knows that most of the students currently enrolled in higher education institutions are ill-equipped to deal with university education, unable to cope  they spend at least five or more years attempting to complete a three-year first degree? Who would invest in people who have been set up for failure – studying under pressure to make money and feed the endless stream of relatives and dependents?  But nevertheless emerge with nothing to show for it after all? With no degree, a debt to pay and diminished prospects of earning a higher income?

See, it’s not really about the money.

He says. Were black people not complicit in their own oppression anyway by swallowing wholesale the ideas of the western world without question? Weren’t Japan, India and China similarly colonized? Why had they managed to retain their culture and Africans not? Why didn’t black people fight? After 300 years of white domination, come on! You can’t still be making excuses and blaming white people for your inadequacies and failures. How would I explain the success of western ideas, if white people are not, inherently superior? Why did  black people  allow Apartheid to take hold? White people in this country feel threatened by calls from students and the EFF to decolonize education.

Throwing white people out is not the solution, where would he go?

It’s the educated whites, the enlightened ones, the communists, engineers who were instrumental in advising the ANC during the struggle years, we are only in the first stage of achieving utopia as envisaged by the SACP, empowering the petit bourgeoisie and then the masses. The country needs more engineers like him. Less social sciences. His grandfather who was an alcoholic forgot to fill the right papers when his father was born, so he has no record of his British ancestry even if he is as white as the next person so he cannot go back there, he’s tried to. It’s the same dilemma Afrikaner people face. They have nowhere to go. So he’s trying to engineer a new future. Here.

But how?

Whatever happened to Mbeki’s idea of Ubuntu? He must be charged for a million deaths under his rule, in fact nobody knows how many he’s killed.  He tried to plant a foreign idea that could not and has not taken root in South Africa. There’s no Ubuntu amongst black people.  And it possibly never existed. There is no evidence to suggest it does or did. He’s been to Alex, he’s seen how “they” live and he never wants to go back there again. White people are and have shared the wealth of this country, what about Black Economic Empowerment? What has the ANC done since ’94? It is not white people’s fault that education is not free. Anyway wasn’t matric sufficient to be a full citizen? Not everybody can go to university and make it. It’s hard enough being a university student. Of course an educated person can’t be bigoted. If you’re educated and still bigoted then your education has failed. This is the role of educators at institutions like Wits, to civilize and eradicate bigotry. Primary and Secondary Education can be free. But University? While there is still undeniable evidence of black mediocrity in the examples of the current political dispensation and let’s not forget Zimbabwe no one would ever believe that blacks are capable of running a country. It’s a fact. Africa is a basket case. Of course he can’t be racist. He’s well educated and education has nothing to do with a person’s prejudice.

It’s how you’ve been raised.

I didn’t want to comment on FeesMustFall, until I met Boris. While I am not an engineer, anthropologist, activist, apologist, communist, socialist or Capitalist. I know about the profound influence that  geography has on human history. I know that where you are born (and continue to live)  has more influence on the subsequent course of your life than anything else. That guns, germs and steel were agents used to drive out, exterminate and conquer those who did not have said guns germs and steel. I know that the environment not biology influenced who would develop guns germs and steel. I know about Jared Diamond. I know that Geography, not Biology determines the history of a people over a long-term, large spatial scale. And that culture plays a more profound role in determining the outcome of people’s lives over a short, small spatial scale. Boris and I  are  results of  both facts.

I didn’t want to write or comment on #feesmustfall until I met Boris. But I had to.  Because even if we can happily dismiss Boris’s tirade as the ignorant  mumblings of  a dying horse. His double speak and subterfuge both in the  past and present – represent the dominant (elitist) thought surrounding the  validity of #FeesMustFall. These thoughts are a direct reflection of our society.  What many fail to understand is that  FeesMustFall is more than just about free education, because the introduction of free education in South Africa will require an overhaul of the country’s  current economic system and or policies. A reorganizing of South African society as we know it.   It’s a demand for a change which is much deeper than a root-canal treatment.

A superficial understanding of what is required, (something which is  not limited to  rands and cents) will result in yet another pyrich victory.

These are the facts. And they can change. So that even if  or when fees do fall and they must. Only a certain number of people can and will be admitted to  University at one time.  Spurious selection criteria may be introduced.

Right of  Admission  Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEDDING BELLS?: PRAY IT’S THE CORRECT PERSON

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These past few weeks I have had the pleasure of attending my sister’s childhood friends’ wedding. It was in many ways a dream come true for her and somewhat of a fairy-tale wedding since she ended up marrying her childhood sweetheart. The couple had dated for a spell in High school and my mother still has a copy of a picture of the two of them taken when they were a couple as teenagers. After ten long years of life apart they met and she said, she saw him in a different light. They talked and two years later sealed their love in marriage, in a beautiful traditional ceremony in their hometown.

Weddings and Funerals have a way of forcing one to re-evaluate ones choices and decisions. Where one is and where one wants or hopes to go. What’s important and what is not. The truth for me was undeniable.

I’ve always wanted to get married. I have always desired married life.  If I had my own way I would have been married years ago, that is, if I had met someone I thought I could commit to. Someone who was also willing to commit to me. I started to think about how it all went wrong. Why it was that I was 35 and still very much a single lady still secretly hoping that someone will like “it” enough to put a ring on it.

Getting married is not a measure of success or is it?

I mean there are enough divorces and dysfunctional relationships and marriages in the world to make even the most optimistic of romantics to shy away at the prospect of ever after. But let’s face it, when marriage works or a union between two committed people, when it works, it really is beautiful, it is something to behold. Despite being considered the most vociferous of feminists in my family, I am also a hopeless (meaning can’t resist love) romantic at heart. I love seeing couples in love, I love romance. I enjoy loving and being loved. And being single has deprived me of one of my greatest joys.  I guess I have just become jaded over time because despite my numerous efforts at finding romantic love with another I have failed to secure a real and genuine proposal I can’t refuse.

In My Sister’s Shadow

My sister’s friends’ wedding took me back in time to five years ago, when my youngest sister got married. She asked my older sister and I to be flower ladies at her wedding – replacing the ubiquitous little flower girls who walk in front of the bride throwing rose petals as a symbol of good luck, fertility and prosperity for the couple. At first I didn’t think too much about it. But there was a part of me that wondered if my older sister and I weren’t “babies” in the game of love, children who had  a long way to go still. Her request conjured up images of a scene in the movie Father of the Bride when the father while listening to his 22 year old daughter announcing her engagement only saw her as a three year old baby girl. Except my sister and I were three year old flower girls in this scenario.  In the end though I was honoured to be there for her. Ye despite having enjoyed some success professionally: doing work that I love and travelling around the world, to my parents I had not yet matured. “Your man will find you once you’ve grown up” my mom would say to me  when the subject of marriage comes up.

As a result of her marriage and subsequent birth of her two children and through no effort of her own my sister now enjoys the role of ‘big’ sister in our household, someone my parents defer to for advice in any discussions of important family matters, because as my father likes to say “she has graduated” into a different office. She is a wife and mother, a mature woman. My sister and I not so much. Yet.

Damaged.

At times I can’t help but feel damaged. That perhaps my experiences in life, love, my line of work including my own choices  have damaged my future prospects of being in a healthy relationship with another. It’s been said that men /women play with women and when they are ready to get married they go for innocent young virgins, who have been prepared for the office of wifehood, people who know how to be wives and mothers. A wise old journalist (male) who had done the exact same thing told me once over wine that the only men I’m good for, are white old men. They, he said emphatically, are the only ones confident enough to deal with and commit to an opinionated black woman who ‘knows” too much.  They are the only ones who wouldn’t be threatened or challenged by your independent mind he concluded. I like my wife because I can teach her so much and she’s like a sponge, she takes it all in. She respects me as her husband and the head of the family.  She needs me and my support. He said taking a last sip of his vin-rouge.

Lessons from the Dark Side of Love

Now that I think about it, despite leaving me still single, a little lonely and slightly jaded byt romantic love, all my failed relationships have taught me two important lessons. One: It matters who you’re in a relationship with, who you end up marrying matters. It matters more to some extent than your career choices and the work you decide to do with your life.  Because who you date or marry has the power to drastically change your life, for better or worse. They can derail your progress in life or  propel it forward.  The emotional, psychological and spiritual trauma from abusive or just plain bad or toxic relationships can take a lifetime to repair, heal and recover from. We all know relationships are important -despite what people say – and everyone including those people who say  things, want to be in a good one.

Two: When in doubt don’t do it. Be single-minded.  The right one for you is very much worth the wait.  Hopefully  it won’t be a 60 year old white male! Either way you’ll be the better for it.

To life, love and Happiness. Le’chaim!!!