IDOLS : YES OR NO?

 

South African Idols Competition 2014

South African Idols Competition 2014

Two weeks ago while listening to the Redi Tlabi Show presented by Nikiwe Bikitsha on Talk Radio 702 , I found myself suddenly, stunned. I stopped what I was doing and listened. The host Nikiwe Bikitsha asked a question that startled me. “Idols yes or no?” she said opening up the lines for people to call in and share their views. To further expand on the topic she took a moment to share some of her personal views saying: “I think that reality shows like Idols should be discontinued, I think Idols has run its course, it’s boring” she said. I found myself hoping that, that does not happen.  I heard a part of me responding to her thinking you shouldn’t watch it if you don’t like it. Because what she said made me sad. It pained me to think that with her words she could shut the door to so many people’s hopes and dreams, let alone laughter. Discontinuing Idols would be a shame I thought. It’s hard enough finding something uplifting to watch on television.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO DO THAT?

I asked this question as I felt myself becoming more agitated with each passing comment on her show. Those who called in, agreed with her!  Idols, on its 10th season in South Africa this year, is a popular music talent show, originally from the US which draws thousands upon thousands of young people from across South Africa, some of whom travel for days and wait in line for hours for a chance to prove to the world and to themselves that they have something of value to offer and share in the form of song. Each year people stand in front of the South African stage and ask – can I sing? Once the initial nationwide auditions (which are the most interesting part) are over and those who can sing have been selected, the competition begins. Each week South Africans vote for a singer they like best. At the end of the competition only one Idol (singer) is chosen based on their talent and votes from the public.

Between comments from listeners Bikitsha added that she was particularly fatigued with the sentimental, personal drama stories used to enhance viewership and help the audience to get to know the contestants better. At which point I thought, hawu?! But that’s the best part of the show! She had ignited a fire in me.

I had to pause for a moment again to remember that I too once held those exact same views but now find myself disagreeing with her completely. The premise of her question; posed in a dismissive tone, was completely negative. Designed to generate answers that affirmed and confirmed her point of view. Meaning if you answered yes to Idols you would surely be relegated to the idiot box.  What I  observed from her voice was  judgment, categorizing Idols as one of those useless shows which made money from exploiting, desperate and ignorant masses, intoxicating them with a dream that is, ultimately impossible for them to achieve.  Had the question been asked differently perhaps one would be able to have a more open conversation about the value of Idols. What are the benefits of reality TV shows such as Idols? I knew, felt somewhere deep in my heart that there is value in talent reality shows like this one, however invisible they may appear  be to  with the naked eye, benefits that no money can buy. I didn’t know how to frame a plausible argument for why Idols SA should continue until I experienced it again, from a very different perspective.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

Last week a good friend of mine, a sister, called me from Toronto, Canada telling me that she will be home at the weekend.  Her mother was due for an operation and she didn’t know how long she’d be in town, could I come and see her? She asked. I agreed to go and spend the weekend with the family, it had been a long time since we were together. On Saturday afternoon, after a long taxi ride, driving through the monotonous dry township landscape, I arrived to find the family huddled around my friends’ warm apartment watching Idols. After my greetings and brief inquiries into everyone’s well-being, it became clear to me that everybody was worried or concerned about the impending operation and they didn’t want to talk about it any further either. Auntie was as busy as ever-moving from one room to another with regular stops in the kitchen making sure that everyone was fed, the dishes clean, and that the house was warm. While everyone else was busy on their phones, sleeping or just being. The family only came together to watch idols, a show, everyone in the family could agree to enjoy together. Other subjects were either taboo or just simply too painful to discuss.  I was also tired from my own life lived in intense introspection that I needed to focus on something else, something hopefully more cheerful. Seeing the smiling faces of Ma, Auntie, my niece, and sister I thought – let me give Idols a chance. We laughed the whole weekend. We parted in high spirits despite everything with me promising to audition for idols in the next season. I realized, that it is better to make people laugh or smile than to make them cry.  The next weekend after that I went to visit my sister for her birthday, her mother and father in law were there and Idols was the on program that we all agreed to enjoy together, we laughed the whole night. And comments were made about who could and could not sing. Which is a great thing about idols, it is a great program whether someone gets in or not, especially the auditions.  People who came to the show were such characters and were simply amazing to watch.  The most fascinating element of the show is the fact that everyone who goes to the auditions believes that they can sing, and sing beautifully. So the surprise when they are told No they can’t sing is what makes it so funny. “Yo, j I don’t wish to be one of these judges on this show, they are ruthless, yo!” Said my friend squirming on the sofa from pain and laughter. How can families allow their children to go out to the world believing they can sing, while it’s clearly evident to everyone that they can’t? “Hhayi my friend, even I can sing that song better!” She exclaimed each time a screeching sound emanated from the TV monitor reached her ears. We were all in stitches, laughing.  I felt bad about laughing at the contestants because it felt as if I was laughing at their misfortune. They really can’t sing, even though they truly believe they can. One contestant almost broke my heart when she said through her overpowering weave post her audition, that it must be my looks, while crying painfully. She believed that it was her looks that were not “right” even though we all heard and understood that she cannot sing. I almost wanted to reach out to her and say it’s not your looks, it’s because. It was painful to listen to you. The truth doesn’t hurt, it’s the death of an idea, a death of a dream that hurts.

IDOLS IS LIKE BUNGEE JUMPING

I hadn’t watched idols in years while experimenting with an idea, a dream I have long-held which has taken me up and down, all over the place trying to place a home for it.  Before embarking on this venture, a good friend invited me to try bungee jumping, to prepare my mind for what I was about to do. It was something I considered suicidal. I was scared. But because she had done it before, she assured me that I would be glad I did it. My sister had done it too and more than anything I was curious. In literal terms signing up to bungee jump is like saying, I’m ready to die, because the very act itself could be fatal. You are literally jumping off a bridge. Even though there are precautions taken to ensure everyone’s safety, the reality of it is once you jump off the rail, there’s a real possibility that you will die. Unless you truly believe with all your heart that you will live, you won’t be able to jump off the bridge. It was a very scary experience for me.   I don’t think I would have been able to do it, had I not had the chance to watch the man at the end the bridge, the guy who says jump speak to the jumpers. He was kind and sweet and allowed each person to take their time. I decided that I want to speak to him, so he can tell me his story – I thought he must be an amazing person. When I jumped, I let go and decided that my fate had already been decided and I would accept any outcome, and I will talk to the guy on the bridge. I closed my eyes tightly and experienced a darkness I had never known. It was like jumping into nothing an endless silent space where nothing and no-one existed except time, which didn’t move. I didn’t know I was safe until someone shouted, Breathe! I didn’t know for how long I had been hanging there – upside down with my feet tied together with a rope, I felt the catch and hear the shout then  I exhaled, and all sorts of emotions came through which I had no control over.  From the depths of my stomach came the most excruciating, painful cry I have ever heard. I cried for what seemed like forever, until I heard myself landing safely in someone’s arms, and watching my friend applaud me with such a wide smile I had never been so happy to be alive, and to see her there waiting for me at the finish line. I had done it. Jumped off a bridge and lived to tell a story about it.  With that jump I felt I had released all negativity, all thoughts and ideas that said: you can’t. Watching the video I saw that I dangled on the rope for what seemed like an eternity – my body, quietly and limply swinging in suspension. I think everybody breathed a sigh of relief when I screamed. My jump was such a free-fall head just dangled in suspension as if there was no one inside. Even for me it was scary to watch. It was the most intense thing I have ever done and most probably will never do again. In that way. But it is still an experience which I will always cherish and value in my life, because it taught me something invaluable. It matured me. I realized that I could face death and not be scared of it.  I realized that I did it despite the spine chilling fear which had me shaking like a leaf as the countdown started. I realized that it was not as frightening as I thought. I believed in myself.  Idols is the same thing. It’s like bungee jumping for the first time. It’s a moment of truth, testing an idea in front of the camera with millions of people watching you. Failing is a huge risk. And yet year in and year out people line-up to try. Why?

EXPERIMENTING

Like most talent reality shows Idols gives people the opportunity to try. An opportunity to test an idea or belief you’ve had about yourself. A way of either confirming what you know or what other people have said about you. Or discovering something completely new and unexpected, discovering things about yourself that you never knew existed, before you tried. It’s an opportunity to try something new, to pursue a dream,  to create. To show yourself and others that you too have something of value to share with the world. That you believe you have a gift.  This is core stuff.  So going out there and facing the three judges including the entire nation is not a small feat. It can be as scary as Bungee jumping. It’s a kind of death or a kind of re- birth of something. I value this about the show.  Because it made even those at home watching – who have no desire to sing for the world that they too can sing and they are not alone in their insecurities. I found myself thinking of how music has shaped my life, how beautiful voices have helped me through difficult lonely moments, telling me that I was not alone. Voices which celebrated with me pushing me to move and dance as if I was a part of the sound that made music possible.  Propelling me to not only see, but feel and experience beauty in life regardless of the circumstances. In music I found I belong, I have a home. Someone understands, or has seen or felt like I do, and come out of it with a beautiful song. Music is amazing. I love music so much that I find myself more often than not singing out-loud at home, imagining myself in some corner of the universe being a star – singing and mesmerizing people with my sultry beautiful voice, drawing out a smile from their hearts that is so wide it fills their eyes with tears, illuminating a shared love of beauty which binds us together, just by being myself and doing what I love. When I sing out loud and think this way, I think my voice sounds amazing, although not many will agree with me. It’s not a fact it’s a belief, an idea. But I have never tried auditioning for idols because I know people who can sing beautifully. And sometimes you have to test an idea, because you might just be the next Bjork or Nina Simone.  I support any initiative that will add beauty in my life.

THE CALLING

I don’t think Idols should be cancelled. If anything I think Idols needs an exciting host, someone who loves to have fun, who enjoys to play, who can see the light side out of everything and sensitive enough to offer words of advice and comfort to those who need it most. Someone who is playful, whimsical, a storyteller who can take audiences on a magic carpet ride as it where a journey of discovery.  Someone who loves live, adventure and has a lots of energy, patience and a love of people. A host who will make the show even more magical that it already is, someone who will bring added spunk and intrigue to the show.  Someone who can ask questions that allow a person to shine, that reveal more about people, someone who can encourage them as they go in, knowing how they must feel, and be there at the end of the “jump” to genuinely celebrate or empathise with them and help them realize that no matter the outcome, there’s always value in trying. Someone who cares, care free and a bit of a performer. Someone who understands the emotions that go with winning and losing. And someone who knows how to balance both, and take both the contestants and the audience at home on journey, opening up a whole new world to people. I think that’s what Idols a host who can create and find magic in everything and everyone, someone who can be still in the moment, go with the flow, and be the mediator the link, between the Judges, the audience and people at home. Idols needs a Host who is a storyteller. An entertaining storyteller, a lover of stories.  Add a great host to a list of already entertaining judges then bob’s you’re uncle. This is the only call I would support. To those of you brave enough to take the plunge, thank you. For entertaining us in these time which I can only describe by quoting Charles Dickens opening line to a tale of two cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…”   Thank you for being the Light!

THE BEAUTIFUL GAME: MESSI YET SO WORTH IT

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  A LESSON IN HISTORY

You have to give it to Germany! I am yet to experience a country which is to a large extent the instigator if not the  cause of the longest and  deadliest war in our  common lifetime(s), an ongoing war in fact,  and still comes out of it smelling as fresh as roses in the dawn of spring! I mean can you imagine! This my dear is pure magic!  For the first time in my adult life I didn’t participate in the world cup event, either as an active fan supporting a country or continent or part of the audience. I didn’t watch a single game.  The one I tried to watch the semi-final between Argentina and Holland, left me pondering the tiny hole in my sock trying to think if I have a needle and thread somewhere to saw it up before it gets any bigger.  When I lost interest in the little potato I checked to see how long I could hold a glass in suspension an inch away from the surface of the wooden bar table. I even found time to look around and observe a sweet couple drinking hot-chocolates while whispering sweet nothings into other’s ears. Cosy, warm and content in each other’s arms.  Then there was a middle-aged man whose movements where so precise you would think he was being remote-controlled: from his step out of his German car, the efficiency with which he sat down ordered a Guinness, made sure all his personal belongings keys, jacket, wallet were all properly in place before glancing at his wrist-watch and fixating his eyes on the screen above, all happening in a smooth single movement as if he alone was in the bar.  His purpose, why he was there, was clear from his demeanour. By half-time I decided to take a brisk, cold walk home, to save my time and hopefully do something a little more useful.  That’s the most I’ve seen of the world cup this year.

THE MESSI PART- ONE

I guess my heart was not in it because I saw how tense the situation had been just before the World Cup in Brazil. The people protested, screaming their lungs out, risking body and limb saying they prefer houses, improved healthcare and better standards of living to a show of football, but no one listened. The game had to go on anyway. So the protest, however fierce, angry and heart wrenching it was, still didn’t change the fact that those who wanted the game to go on collectively around the world (that’s all of us who watched it) were more powerful in their desire for the game than those who didn’t. So as soon as kick-off started we all forgot about the holes in our socks  to refocus on the matter at hand, the  beautiful game.  So I wondered how those whose yellow and green colours I had worn so proudly and sensuously after having squeezed myself in into a tight-fitting, Brazil National team jersey which pumped my breast up firmly to resemble balls from which warm delicious, creamy fresh milk and golden  sweet honey could drip, with just a hint of my prune like belly button peeping between heaven and earth, could possibly win under these circumstances: the people didn’t want it.

“They had no focus, they were too emotional or didn’t direct that emotion into a positive strategy on the field” these were just some of the comments I heard in passing after Germany emaciated Brazil with a 7-one win. The Giants of football had fallen at the hands of the most interesting country in the world. They call it German Efficiency, Discipline, Precision, Focus and so forth. “Germany has paid its dues to history, it’s time to celebrate!” No holocaust was mentioned there in my friends comment on Facebook. Why spoil a good story with facts. “It happened but we learnt from it” You should too.   So now here we are in the middle of 2014, almost a century since the Second World War when between 1942 and 1943, six million Jews, homosexuals, the disabled, and mentally ill were efficiently suffocated to death. Germany has won the world cup and is smiling from ear to ear, while Palestinians (Arabs) and the Israeli’s (Jews) are at each other throats, forcing an empty argument with heavy artillery through the mouths of infants. Germany has nothing to do with it!  It is the USA whose hands are dirty. Germany has paid its penance for the crimes it committed, they do what they can to support from behind but they will not be the face of it no. Too shameful. Even though its ethnic cleansing initiatives in 1942, are the reasons why Arabs won’t live with the Jews or why Israel is bombing Gaza.  The deal was the Jews would get their own piece of land after such cruel and atrocious treatment from the Germans, they had to be compensated somehow so they were allocated a piece of land – it was given to them. But nobody thought about what would happen to the people who already lived in that same piece of land, where are they supposed to go? So the fight started. Now nobody knows how to deal with the problem because both sides are entitled to the land by birth right, not to mention any holy book. One party suffers more because it has no resources, so other countries who are sympathetic to its cause support it where they can with arms or open disdain against Israel. Israel for its part sees nothing wrong with its actions, it’s something any father would do to protect the family. Germany is nowhere in sight.

THE MESSI PART : TWO

In fact Germany is so ashamed of the holocaust that no one in the country is legally allowed to even utter the word “Holocaust”.  You will be imprisoned says one friend, for just mentioning the word.  That’s how sorry they are about the whole thing.  The sad part is Germany is a very good country actually, besides everything, those who have been there, especially artists who lived in Berlin – sing its praises.  They have achieved a lot since the Holocaust, it’s a shame that people don’t see beyond history to appreciate something good. There are so many Good things about Germany, economically, technologically, their approach to arts and culture, education, etc. So much good.  In fact it is as we speak the power house of the European Union. It is the most stable, most organized country in the EU. Germany decides. So while its plan to conquer the world by the most efficient form of clinical brutality was abruptly halted, they did not give up the idea all together. The idea of a powerful race was still there continuing to grow, it didn’t die, the question was only: how to do this without ending up with egg on your face? i.e. indiscriminately annihilating masses of people to get what you want? Once they figured that puzzle out, they could continue with their plan without smelling like last night’s dinner.  German soldiers had to change uniform, from Khaki military uniforms, to civilian clothing, actually to anything their target is wearing.  They sent an invisible army around the world to infiltrate and take as much information as possible about the target in order to help. We are here to help, not to harm you in any way.

Regardless of the circumstances under which Germany defeated Brazil on or off the field. In football it’s fair game. There are no party  politics involved, no social issues, no business, mother or father dying, you have to focus on the game and that’s what makes you a winner. Everybody understands and believes that in soccer no one cheats, there’s no match fixing, it’s impossible. The game is based on your fitness, training, mental focus, controlled emotions and time.

Instead of being at the foreground, Germany decided to take a back seat and control things out of sight. Being the pioneer of an ambitiously brutal quest for power does not win you many friends,  you have to appear sincere, seem to care. By learning through German Efficiency, Discipline, Precision, Focus and so forth, it was easy for them to identify their opponents’ weakest point but instead of making fun of it, they thought of a solution that would have you freely and voluntarily handing over your power to them without them having to requesting it. This way instead of hating them, you will forever be in awe of their kindness. So that when they tell you it’s better to do things their way you agree, and why not, you stand to benefit from the deal too and it is a sweet one.   What they are doing in actual fact is making you play the game in their own terms.

THE BEAUTIFUL GAME

Every country has its own form of football and that is what makes it such a beautiful game.  In days gone by during the world cup each country would play its own game to the field. I fell in love with Brazilians not because they have an over-supply of sexy men or beautiful women, no it was Brazilian soccer that got me hooked. Those boys were dancing on the field! Their tackles were so complex it made the tango seem easier in comparison. No one could break their rhythm, focus and precision with which they passed the ball from one foot to another.  Football was still fun then, and men played because they loved it, enjoyed the game. You could a compose a beautiful song while watching Brazil move as effortlessly as a swift  gentle breeze, which lingered for a moment in motion for a tete a tete with the opponent while their feet moved faster than a piano master’s fingers over black and white keys, as if asking: Will you dance with me? Before moving in a blink as if nothing ever happened. It was simply beautiful to watch. The result of this was other teams were forced to bring their own game to the table too. Which s why soccer was so interesting to watch, why the world cup could never be boring.

Everybody was inspired to play.  Now our hearts are too heavy to score a goal. We start and then just forget why we’re in the game in the first place – while at the same time wanting to win.   Now we’re playing the game on German terms and conditions: Efficiency, Discipline, Precision, Focus and so forth. They know that for as long as we play the game based on their rules, even if they don’t win now, because they are letting us win, they will eventually win and win big, since they are the creators of the rules of the game.  In effect they know their game better than you. I didn’t watch the game between Brazil and Germany but many say,  it was as if Germany was alone in the field.

So based on this evidence Germany clearly deserved the World Cup.  The country has done well. I think if there is a lesson that could be learnt from these times is: You can always change your future no matter how horrible your past is.  You can turn anything bad you have done into something good, something to be proud of.  You can recover from any set back, you can create a future you want. With time, focus and diligence things will work out for you.

The other lesson is and this one I think is most important: Play your own game – the one only you can play. Because no one can play your game better than you can. Keep playing your own game no matter what anyone says,  because the bottom line is the point of the game is for is for one team to make another lose their game. The minute you lose your game the other team wins. So if you keep playing your game – in your own terms, you will never lose because everything that happens (even thought it might seem like a loss to others) is in your own terms.

By sticking to your game, no one can copy you, even if they try to, and end up doing a brilliant job of it  – it will always be a brilliant copy, never an original.

So be you. Do what you love, what you are naturally inspired to do. Love will somehow, save you, even from yourself.

Who knew that you can learn so much from watching a game of boring football?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEAR SOUTH AFRICA: PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA IS YOUR CREATION.  

South African President Jacob Zuma.

South African President Jacob Zuma.

Dear Mr President...

There are many people wishing to write open letters to register their discontent with the state of the nation which South African President Jacob Zuma represents. In fact there are a few enraged open letters to the president making their rounds on the web as we speak, there are many letters of people with broken hearts about the new democracy, people who feel betrayed by the ANC, the struggle and  this and that. Radio and television personality Gareth Cliff’s wrote his and it was published this week, so has poet Nsiki Mazwaai. Still many have intimated that they are largely disappointed with the kind of political discourse populating South African Media these days. All of it they say, is just too polite. No one has so far spoken with conviction and authority regarding the state of the nation or the (un)suitability of Mr Jacob Zuma as a leader or President. Any other self-respecting President in any other country would have resigned following the damning report by the Public Protector Thuli Mandonsela (who by the way many of you have commended her on her ‘bravery” – I will expand on this concept later) you say.  Here’s the thing: President Jacob Zuma represents you and I. He is the symbol of South Africa. And by South African I don’t mean the country’s beautiful landscapes and nature. I mean people, you, human beings who call themselves South Africans by birth, marriage, ancestry or choice. He is the towering glowing example of who we are as a nation. He embodies our present day character, values, principles, our abilities, our hopes and dreams, flaws, leadership abilities, decision making abilities etc. President Jacob Zuma is you and I South Africa. We cannot conveniently distance ourselves from him and this truth. Yes, he is responsible in part for the state of our nation, but we are all ultimately responsible for what Zuma is or as some erroneously believe has become. We created him and the current state of our nation. President Jacob Zuma encapsulates what it means to be a South African today, he exemplifies the character of the majority of the country’s citizenry if not all. In other words we are all complicit in the Nkandla/Rape/Corruption scandals surrounding the President whether we choose to acknowledge this fact or not.

PRESIDENT ZUMA IS RIGHT: IT’S NOT HIS FAULT

The truth is: when we went to the polls in 2009 to elect a new president we knew the calibre of President Jacob Zuma. He was unapologetic in his much publicized rape trial about his decision to have consensual sex (in his words) with his best friend’s HIV positive daughter. Though he apologized – his words rang hallow as the complainant was assaulted and vilified by hundreds of men and women outside the Johannesburg high court, while he danced and sang bring me back me my machine gun. The courts accepted his version of events and so did the nation. We accepted this. Even when his financial advisor and close friend Shabir Shaik was convicted of corruption in a case which implicated the president with corruption which led to his dismissal as the deputy president of the country, we agreed with the courts’ not guilty verdict. We went to the polls and put an x next to his face on the ballot accepting him as our leader with without conditions – for better or worse. Once president we accepted the prisons version that Shabir Shaik was terminally ill and allowed him to be released from prison barely serving his ten-year prison sentence. We agreed with the president’s version of events. The presidents’ comments on Africa also reflect popular opinions among many of us, “let them go back to their countries – what are they doing here?” think Xenophobia 2008. Then came Gupta-gate   and now Nkandla. We never took to the streets in protest, we never called for the president to step down, account or be impeached. We sat and watched shook our heads and said such is politics and such is life and went on with our daily lives. We did nothing and therefore we are by all accounts and purposes  complicit.

WHY THE SILENCE ?

Because we are the same – we act and behave in our own private lives just like our dear president  does in public for all to see. We all want the good life, we all engage in corruption and support corrupt activities and organizations in our daily lives, we give and take bribes. We accept things we know we shouldn’t. We all want to drive expensive cars, live the lavish life, eat sushi on naked bodies, we all want to live in palaces and be kings of our respective Nkandla’s. We all are greedy, we want more and more, more irrespective of who suffers. We all want to do as little work as possible and get the highest reward for doing nothing. We force ourselves on women in private, we engage in risky sexual activities i.e. have sex without condoms. We all cheat on our partners, have multiple concurrent relationships, given the chance we’d all have many, many, many wives. We all just want to party, dance and have a good time while those who serve us starve. We all don’t want to accept responsibility for our actions. It’s not our fault that others live in poverty, it’s not our fault that we have friends in high places who can give us tenders, jobs, cut-backs, after all that’s what the struggle was about. We all aspire to be Jacob Zuma’s in our own lives. It’s not our fault that we have money and can buy justice and fund corruption. If we do not actively participate in  corrupt acts  we turn a blind eye to them, “it’s none of our business” we say. We remain silent. Why do we expect President Zuma to be any different from us? Why should he accept responsibility and take the high and noble road when we are not willing to risk positions of power and privilege for the same principles we expect President Jacob Zuma to uphold? Why should he stand for truth, justice, fairness when we do everything in our power to protect our lies /lives at all costs? We have remained silent because we are guilty of the same offense. We have remained silent because ultimately we also want the power he has. We want to do the same things we accuse him of doing  with impunity.

President Jacob Zuma never lied. He has remained consistent through-out his term in office. Doing everything that we knew he was capable of doing since he was elected as president: as promised. We cannot pretend we didn’t know who he was, we cannot say he changed – he has stayed true to himself.  When will you be true? Stop blaming the President for doing what you elected him to do. It truly is not his fault. The same goes for Oscar Prestorious, he represents all of us.

Public Protector Thuli Mandonsela was not brave, she did what any true friend would do, tell the truth without fear.

To thy own self be true. If you don’t like something change it.

It begins with you and I.

TRUST YOURSELF: SA ELECTIONS 2014

Trust Yourself.

Trust Yourself.

I WISH I COULD TELL YOU IT GETS BETTER WITH AGE.

Last night at dinner my teenage brother started giggling and smiling widely exclaiming “ah teenage problems!”  While fiddling on his phone. I looked up from my plate of rice curious to find out what the source of such an “adult” statement was. “You know” he said looking at me with a bright smile. “Yes…?’ I asked quizzically. “You’ve watched enough movies on this subject” he said.  “Teenage crushes?” I guessed.  He nodded in agreement. “I wish I could tell you it gets better with age” I replied with a sigh. “I know. It doesn’t” he replied with confidence while shaking his head from side to side and returning to his mobile phone where the real action was happening.

CRUSHED: CRAZY, STUPID,  LOVE

This conversation is a good analogy for what I have been thinking about for the past few days, months and maybe even years. I think it also serves as a good example for the state we are in as a nation. There’s so much at stake for a teenager with a crush. It’s very awkward, all-consuming, the most important thing in your entire life, and the subject of every conversation or secret diary entries, endless doodles on desks, skin, paper, in fact any surface. I mean a crush is a serious thing. And can get friends, families and teachers even the entire community involved.  But there is one element about crushes which I want to highlight in this conversation. Crushes do by their very nature almost always, with very few documented cases, cast a negative focus on the beholder of the crush, a self-imposed negative  self-image not based in reality.  The person who has a crush on the other does not feel worthy of said object of affection.  The person one has a crush on assumes a Godly, Idolized status in one’s eyes and can never do wrong. They are holy, perfect and indestructible. Even all the things that would make a sober person  a little circumspect  are cute to the one with a crush. Crushes as I am sure we can all remember – can be quite painful and humiliating,  a source of much scorn, embarrassment and jokes at school or at home. It’s generally a painful state to be in – being in a crush. It is simply not sustainable: it’s a place of enormous tension and struggle especially within the mind and heart of person with a crush. Should I tell or shouldn’t I, does s/he love me?  Does s/he love me not?  Should I write to them? say hello? How? When? What will they think? Oh is s/he looking at me? Oh my GOD s/he smiled at me! Oh No it was for someone else etc. Until one finally gets to the conclusion that: “I can’t keep these feelings in anymore!!!”  Something has to be done.

A FORK IN THE ROAD

In order for something to happen (for action to take place), one must make a decision, a choice.  One must choose between knowing (if the crush feels the same way?) or not knowing (deciding not to pursue the issue) remain stagnant.  Sometimes, as in a fork in the road, the choice or decision is by all accounts and purposes not an easy one to make. As in a crush, the decision is daunting and has consequences one invariably does not wish to confront: you discover your crush likes someone else, does not feel the same way about you, considered you for a split second and decided you’re not worth the trouble, doesn’t even know you exist, uses you and discards you or worse they like you too and have been just as afraid as you were to tell you – so what now?  The consequences are so grave they can make one freeze, in a state of panic unable to make a decision either way. So how does one know how to make a decision that would have the best outcome for all concerned, especially you?

CONSULT YOU: WHAT DO YOU THINK?

I have been thinking quite loudly about my decision-making processes over the last decade. And I have made a startling discovery. Many of the decisions I made, I used “someone else”as the reason.  I made someone else take the “fall”, I made someone else the main reason or foundation on which to base that decision. i.e. I came back to SA because I wanted to be with my mother or my mother missed me;  He or she didn’t love me, like me, wasn’t there, didn’t support me, I didn’t have money, it was too hot, my sister said so, they chased me away, she said she needed me etc.  All of the reasons given most probably are valid and true but ultimately it is not my mother or anyone else who made the decision. I chose to come back. I made the decision to book my ticket and took all the necessary steps to make that decision a reality. I simply used my mother as a mitigating/aggravating circumstance among other reasons in my argument. What is startling for me is that I didn’t realize how afraid I had been of making decisions and being personally held accountable to myself for the consequences that came with them.  My mother may have given some advice, provided some support, influenced my decision but she did not by any stretch of the imagination force me or could not force me to leave or to come back. I was the one responsible for all my decisions and consequently the actions and reactions that occurred after that.

But it’s easy to have someone else to blame other than yourself. In fact  it’s comforting to know that there’s another person who will take the fall or stand with you or by your side for decisions you took or failed to take  on your own behalf. It’s harder to say yes, I alone and no one else did it, and I alone and no one else  will accept all the consequences that come with my choices/actions. I stand by my decision. Instead of owning up and being accountable we look for any and every reasonable argument to take the decision process out of our hands. We want to “share” the responsibility of making decisions at best or simply abandon  the responsibility altogether by making someone else in one way or the other make the decision for us  and ultimately be the one(s) responsible for the state we are in.  She said, he did this, they didn’t do that, so I did this because of that.

I based my decisions on what I thought others wanted, desired, or expected of me, hoping to please them. It all came from a genuinely good place, I honestly meant well, and thought I was doing what is “right” and responsible.  However noble and understandable my reasons were/ are, the truth is,   I am, was and always will be the one who decides.

MAKE ME AN OFFER I CAN’T REFUSE.

So I have been speaking to voters during the municipal by-elections held in  KwaMashu KwaZulu Natal this week. I asked them as they walked out of the voting booth – why  it was important for them to vote.   Their initial responses  obfuscated any form of responsibility:

Q: Why was it important for you  vote today:

“I don’t really know why it’s important to vote– but I vote because it’s important, they say it’s important” said one IFP member.

“It’s important to vote because I will get a house, and all my needs will be met” said a mother.

“I’m not really sure why I vote really, because nothing has changed in my life, I just know that I have to vote, why I don’t know” said a pregnant widow

On further probing… Q: Why was it important for you to vote today?

“ I voted because I need a job, I work part-time jobs, sometimes there’s no work for long periods, I am a father with children I have to support, so I’m voting so I can get a job, I vote for those I think will help me” said the IFP member

“ I think if you vote you will have services delivered to you. Like now I’m waiting for a house, I don’t have a house I live in a room with three people so If I vote I stand a better chance to get what I want” said the mother

“ I think I’m voting to promote those already in power to higher position in office, actually that’s what my vote is good for I think” said the pregnant widow.

TRUST YOURSELF.

It is  not always easy to know whether one is making the right decision in a state of a crush. One only knows that a decision must and should be made. When it comes to voting one has the luxury of openly and  without shame  blaming someone  else  for any negative outcome . They become the fall guy, the ones who are ultimately responsible for the x you made on the ballot paper.  So whatever the outcome, whether you get that job, or the house or the person you voted for get’s the position they wanted – they will ultimately forever remain responsible for the state you are in good or bad, because you gave them the power to decide what happens to you. If you get what you were hoping for,  you can be happy because you made the decision that proved to be of benefit to you.  But there is no way of knowing the outcome without making a decision.

What I am learning from this  teenage-adult-in-crush-state  is that they are ultimately necessary, to teach us to learn to make decisions both collectively and individually. You learn with each crush that it will pass, that the passion you feel however all-consuming in the moment  will be history one day, you learn that there will be others who have a crush on you too, and you will also have to break their hearts sooner or later. You learn that a crush is not love, it’s a momentary infatuation that is here today and gone tomorrow. You learn that  love is built on friendships with  people you can actually talk to about all your “crushes”, who will make jokes with you and still look at you like you are magic even when you are in the throes of making a fool of yourself. You learn that love is equal, is a negotiated agreement which is not one-sided. You also learn that crushes are necessary because they can and often do show you what is really important to you. You learn that in the end you are the most important person in your life, and those who are important to you only want you to be happy, to see you being the best of who you are, and you learn that you cannot be the best  of you until you decide for yourself what it is that is ultimately the best for you.  The more crushes you experience in your life  the more you learn, to listen carefully to you,  to carefully consider all available options with openness, you learn to whether the storms (remain still in the noise). You learn that the only thing that is constant is change. You learn also that change – is an important, essential ingredient for any and all  GROWTH to happen.

So trust yourself – you are more than capable of making the best decision for you. Because you know what… only  YOU  can do that.

 

 

“SECRETLY WE ARE GAY” – MY ANC, MY SWAG CAMPAIGN

One of the Embassadors of the" My ANC My Swag" Campaign  being Interview i n Umlazi  at the Weekend.

One of the Embassadors of the” My ANC My Swag” Campaign being Interviewed in Umlazi at the Weekend.

Did You know?  That back in the 1960s a new word  emerged. Swag. An acronym used by those  in the know to communicate  that aha   ” Secretly We Are Gay” and the word/slash acronym soon became a popular word used world-wide to  describe  really cool people who more often than not tend to dance to their own tune and possess copious amounts of style  and were more often than not – quite simply fabulous people to be with.  So it was with a great sense of irony and (private  humour  on my side) that I observed  that the African National Congress’s Youth League (ANCYL) has adopted this term for this year’s election campaign in an effort to lure  young voters  to join and vote for the party.

It was actually quite hilarious to watch  the ANC’s General Secretary Gwede Mantashe, former National Police Commissioner (a man with a lot of “swag” read style ) Bheki Cele,  KwaZulu Natal Premier – Senzo Mcunu and a host of other ANC provincial and national officials literally shaking their bosoms to the South African hit song and now the MetroFM  song of the year “Y-Tjukuja ” by Uhuru, next to skimpily clad young girls wearing the Yellow Black and Green  T-shirts with the tag-line “MY ANC MY SWAG”

They all clamoured on stage  and  jokingly tried to out-do each other with their skillful dancing: shaking hips, waists, bottoms and stamping their feet at the launch of the  ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal “ANC Friday ” campaign. It was meant of course to be a hip cool event with the goal  of projecting the  ANC as a current and relevant professional party, not stuck in old traditions and customs , but a party  which is truly moving with the times; one which is relevant and accommodating of young people’s love for fashion, accessories, music and the good times.

I mean it was really funny to observe because though the ANC was at the helm of ensuring human rights and dignity for all including LGBTI (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transexual and Intersex) people;  although both party and government policies are quite progressive on that front: I  honestly doubt that the ANC would have approved such a campaign in aid of the LGBTI community.

The ANC and government have maintained a very  contradictory (if not schizophrenic) narrative when dealing with issues pertaining to the  LGBTI community.  Two cases spring to mind.  Comments by the former Minister of Arts and Culture Lulu Xigwana in 2010  after viewing  Photographer Zanele Muholi’s work at a collective art exhibition held  at the Constitutional Court’s Women’ Goal labeling her photographs; portraits of women in same-sex relationship as  ” non nation building” as she angrily walked out of the exhibition co-funded by her own Department  of Arts and Culture. She was indeed quite disturbed that she had been made  party to such “wrong behaviour, which disturbed core  South African society, it was simply not nation building”.   We can also  similarly recall hateful  comments made  by South African Ambassador to Uganda Jon Qwelane in his July 2008 article  published in the Sunday Sun titled: “Call me names, gay’s not okay”  which he skillfully penned at the height of brutal killings of black lesbians in the country. Though the Human  Rights Commission (HRC) launched a case against Mr  Qwelane for Hate speech. Mr Qwelane stood by his words asserting that he too has a right to freedom of expression and those rights are guaranteed by our constitution. Not surprising the Department of International Affairs and Corporation (Dirco) said in a statement responding to President Museveni’s draconian  new  anti -gay law  would see  queer people being sentenced to life in prison, that  ” The South African Government will adopt a quiet diplomacy approach on the Ugandan issue”. Constitutional Court expert Pierre De Vos says there is untold danger in this particular type of quiet diplomacy:”

Sometimes absolute silence becomes politically impossible. Those who are not prepared to embrace the full humanity of fellow human beings because of prejudice or self-protection will then hide behind impersonal statements or will make hollow declarations devoid of any real compassion.

It is the absence of any words or actions that display true solidarity with the oppressed minority that is usually the dead give-away. Such statements impose a different kind of silence – even as it pretends to speak about the love that “dare not speak its name” – which can often have equally devastating effects. This silence – which hints at but never names or describes the oppression of gay men and lesbians and its often devastating effects on fellow human beings in full – is the silence of the hypocrite and the closet homophobe. This, unfortunately, is the quality of the “half-silence” of the South African government about the horrors faced by many people who experience same-sex sexual desire in South Africa and elsewhere in the world.

So while this may have given me a chuckle and some much-needed comic relief,  it left me with more questions than answers. I wondered if they would have danced and jived, with such glee had they known what  Swag actually stands for. I wondered if they would have approved the SWAG campaign had they  known  that SWAG is in actual fact an acronym declaring that they are secretly gay.  Imagine if  Secretly We Are Gay was an actual ANC election campaign – what difference that would make to so many people on the continent….  but the ANC’s SWAG is all about appearances as concept developer (pictured – far left)  explained on Friday that the  campaign was to lure  young people who love fashion, to express themselves in ANC colours. The MY ANC MY SWAG  Facebook page states:” MY ANC MY SWAGG AIMING @ KEEPING ANC MEMBERS ON A SWAGG ESPECIALLY YOUNG PEOPLE THIS IS A ONE OF BIG CAMPAIGNS MOVING TOWARDS 2014 N BEYOND THAT WILL KEEP ANC IN THE MINDS OF THE PEOPLE THIS WILL ALSO ASSIST IN KEEPING BORN FREE GENERATION MOBILIZED ”

One can only sigh at the missed opportunity.  More than anything though,  the recent events both in South Africa and in Uganda make one thing crystal clear: Those in power will do just about anything to get votes and  remain in power for as long as it is humanly possible. They will do so by any means necessary even at the expense of minority groups, the poor , the young and the uninformed. They will hold on to power even at the expense of everyone’s most basic human rights.  Which means we must equally stand up and  defend minority rights and the basic human rights for ALL  by any means necessary. Because power plus love equals Peace.

Ends

THE ERECTION SEASON AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR US…

Ooozing Sex Appeal: DA Gauteng Premier Candidate - Mmusi (ruler) Maimane

Ooozing Sex Appeal: DA Gauteng Premier Candidate – Mmusi (ruler) Maimane

In the past five years I have spent a considerable amount of time in the company of men from all walks of life and from all regions of the world. And by a considerable amount of time – I mean considerable… day and night all the time, hanging out with them  chilling just doing stuff that men do when they are not in the company of women or more specifically for me women they would like to ideally have sex with or are “attracted”  to.  I was so to speak – one of the “boys”.   During this time I was given a very rare opportunity to observe their behavior and attitudes and outlook towards life. And while I am no wiser than most people and will not in no way attempt in this blog to box men into any category, at the very least  this time offered  me an opportunity to ask questions  or have candid, open and honest conversation about  relationships of all kinds –  with no strings attached.

The most revealing observation for me has to be about sex.  Seven days  is the most  an average healthy  man can go without sex. Every seven days on average, a man  needs, must have sex.  Preferably with someone they love… but once the deadline is over – and it if it’s going on to more than seven days, anyone will do.  The natural, biological  clocks kicks in and it has nothing to do with who they really love, care about or want to marry Ideally. It’s like being hungry or thirsty or even needing to pee. A man must have sex after seven days or things just don’t work out. It’s not personal and actually they don’t mean to hurt you. It’s a  human basic need they cannot go without, so either you make yourself available or you move for someone else who is be available.

At the end of the day sex is going to be had – with or without you. Finish and Klaar.

I want to use this analogy for elections  – any election season – anywhere  which is quite apt. Every 5 years we need to vote.  But this time we the nation ( female ) are in the powerful position.  All the men and women of politics need our vote and as many of them as they can get.  Many of them now are campaigning like men, who say vote for us, but if you don’t there are many more fish in the sea.  That’s the attitude…. but it belies the truth.

There are no more fish in the sea for them.  This is the one time we can use the biological clock to our advantage and give our  vote or power to someone else . We are the men in this scenario. It should not be an emotional decision. We have needs and our needs, need to be met, and if those in power have been unable for the past 20 years  give up the goods as it were, to make us “dance” then well there are many others who are willing to do just the same  thing  right now today.

Now is our time to spread our seed far and wide… to any and everyone who is willing.

Those who really, love us and really care, will show up and despite the clicking biological clocks all round they will fight to remain relevant and useful in our lives.

It’s their turn to work for it. Don’t fall for the sweet-talk and charm, they must show you the goods or forever remain silent.

We have options too, they may not shake us to the core, with earth-shattering- tremors  of utter ecstasy but they will get the job done. Which is basically what we need.

So let’s relax and enjoy the ride.  Let’s stop working “hard” for it.

As American Actress Betty White said ” Why do people say – “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive! If you really want to get tough, grow a vagina! Those things take a pounding!”

I think we’ve had enough pounding ….  let’s take a holiday   sit back,  enjoy some  Champagne. and the Grand Parade.

Happy  Champagne Thursday!