DATING: WITH MY FAMILY

My younger sister and I have often toyed with the idea of me re-entering the dating scene through South Africa’s leading reality dating show: Date My Family, just for fun. Date my family is a show where a bachelor or bachelorette dates three potential mates’ families before they could date them. We love the show because it is full of real life drama, intrigue and humour from embarrassing family members, possessive parents, awkward questions and lots of laughs. The shows’ successes hinges on the fact that a potential partner is judged solely on the relatives, close family members and or friends they choose to represent them. The bachelor or bachelorette bases his or her decision on how the family members cook, behave and treat him/her not to mention what they say about the potential date in question who watches/monitors the date from a  separate location. It opens the door to South African society, while highlighting the dating habits of men and women in the country which are the foundation of how families are created and what values and principles most South Africans families hold.
I considered sending in a letter to date my family but decided against it. Thinking that if the show had existed 20 years earlier I would have been more willing to throw caution to the wind and ask to participate in this grand experiment especially since I’ve tried everything including online-dating, speed-dating, slow-dating , long-distance dating and no-dating at all to find a partner. None of it has worked.
When I told my mother that I was considering writing in to date-my family to participate she asked why was I  hesitant. Are you afraid of the competition? I had to suppress the urge to take on her challenge and accept that some things are best enjoyed on Television, I don’t have to be in them. Besides, it would make me look desperate and I’m not right? Right.
So I threw the idea in the rubbish bin and continued to watch the show via YouTube whenever I felt like having a bit of a laugh. But seeing as the word was out, even though it was a non-committal one, a moment came when I accidentally went on an untelevised, off camera, unproduced or edited date with my family – literally.  It was organic. I have never laughed so much! It was an unexpected – out of nowhere situation on my last night in Johannesburg. My brother in-law and his friend were having a boy’s night out together at HoggsHead restaurant where my journey began. They later invited my sister and I to join them so we could celebrate together. I liked him the first time I laid eyes on him; he had a wide smile, beautifully sculpted body, easy on the eye, and he literally swept me off my feet. He picked me up and spun me around a few times over an invisible threshold, you know, like they do in the movies after a couple gets married and I thought to myself, wow! I could get used to this. I felt safe and comfortable in his arms. No stranger has ever been this happy to see me!
Then he put me down, showed me his dance moves which left me immobile and breathless against my sister’s car. Bringing to mind a 90’s naughty song we danced to as children in primary school by Another level, called – Freak Me. All this while my sister and brother in-law looked on cheering, jeering, teasing and commenting on our every move. At another establishment we gravitated to each other. Even though he and I both worked the room from separate corners we had eyes on each other. He was surrounded by legions of female fans and I danced courageously with my sister to dodgy white (sic) music. Later as we left the establishment my brother in-law’s friend and I started coding. He told me he was into (prefers) vanilla but he works well with chocolate. I told him I love all the colours of the rainbow. So you’re a politician? He asked, Somewhat, I responded. Can you count? I asked him. What if I told you a story? He asked. As longs as it’s numerical poetry, I responded. That is so nice, so nice I’m in, he said. I smiled.
All four of us took an uber back home. He and I tried not to kiss while my brother in-law sat next to me and my sister conducted running commentary of my dating habits from the front seat of the car: My sister is into full PDA (Public Display of Affection). Then later on she reprimanded me: no! sisi you promised me you’ll never do that to me. I can hear the sound of your kissing, she said. The Uber driver nodded in agreement. I had forgotten they were there. I was only aware of him and my mission to find out if he could actually kiss. Despite the fact that he made me extremely shy. We had to stop. We parted just as things were about to get interesting. Then my sister asked about the kiss: How was it? It had a rocky start, I told her. He tried to shove his tongue into my mouth like a lizard from the get go. No I did not, he protested leaning into me with laughter. In fact you’re the one who initiated the whole thing! he retorted. #toosoon my sister laughed! But the kiss got better after I demonstrated how I wished he could do it, I told her wishing she was not there to chaperone the whole encounter. I wished we could be alone and it was impossible. We discussed the kiss at length until my sister decided to make the statement of the year, in his direction later that evening:
“we (women) are like ovens not microwaves”
That’s a good one, he said smiling. He is such a joy to be with, I thought.
We’re going to the shop,  what can I bring for you? He asked sweetly wrapping his arms around my shoulders. Death by Chocolate, I responded. When he came back he hadn’t bought it. Why? I asked perplexed. I thought it was a metaphor for me! He said laughing, I didn’t think you actually wanted Death by Chocolate. #duh. He laughed, I laughed too, so did my sister and her husband.

The next day as my sister and I made breakfast I breathed an old tune; rolling with my homies while swaying my hands like a  wave. That’s from Clueless right? My sister guessed. Yes, I said. I was happy and at ease, a rare combination for me. Once it was ready he and my brother joined us at the table, my brother was already protective of me. “Who is this guy? Where was he when she was in Senegal?” He questioned my sister. #Silence. We rummaged through the previous evenings events and retold the highlights. I wore the most unattractive outfit I could find to make things easier for myself. Then we were both roasted and teased about liking each other while we blushed together openly trying not to stare into each other’s eyes or talk about the future, follow-ups and if we wanted to have children. I felt like a teenager dressed in a woman’s clothes. “It’s too good to be true” he said to me. We threw pillows, glances and massages at each other, we were both relaxed in an uncomfortable situation.
He couldn’t believe I was flying out in less than an hour. I was happy to go home until I met you, I told him. We all took a sip of our drinks at the same time around the table. My brother, brother in law, his friend, my sister and I. #Deep. We gulped.
We hugged, he said goodbye Homie. I said I can’t believe you have friend zoned me already. My brother in-law said you just met yesterday, my brother said being a homie is a good sign, he’s the most attractive and  likeable guy you’ve ever introduced to me. I was beginning to worry about your taste in men he said laughing, I thought you like die skobo! #phew. My sister said she’s sorry it didn’t work out. I said I wish him well. He really is amazing.
We didn’t exchange numbers or social media contacts. #nothing. The experience was fun, exciting, passionate, embarrassing, it made me blush so much I needed a fan. It was open, honest, direct and refreshing. But I was glad that only my family was able to see me like that; all giddy, happy and vulnerable. What I loved most about him was how well he fit in with me and my family.
I was even happier to learn that my happiness matters to them so much. It was good to see how everyone wanted to see me smile again. I learnt that even when things I  try out or do,  don’t work out. I can still have fun (enjoy)  with the process and my family as a unit is a great wing man, they are my strength.

My New Homie taught me that there are three things which make love last in any relationship:
One: Empathy – The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Two: The ability to control your own stress and emotions.
Three: Having positive illusions about your partner: i.e. the ability to overlook what you don’t like about them and focus on what you do like…consistently.
This way you’re guaranteed to stay in-love for as long as you (both) want. Hopefully my next date will be for a lifetime. Until then…
I’m booked !

17310133_10155426639703455_3869012945298031979_o

Stomach Investment, Hedge Funds In Jozi.

South Africa woke up to another economic ratings’ down grade, this time by  Standard and Poor’s Index, or S&P.  Following Moody’s down grade last  week also.  According to Reuters:

Standard & Poor’s cut South Africa’s credit rating one notch on Friday to BBB with a negative outlook, saying mining strikes and social tensions could reduce fiscal flexibility and hurt growth in the continent’s biggest economy

And since I have been spending a lot of time walking around the city of Johannesburg’s Central Business District (CBD) on the newly gentrified Maboneng Precinct in down town Johannesburg, it’s an interesting area, I got to thinking about Hedge Funds and How the Super rich make their money so…

As I was walking down from Arts on Main’s Sunday Market, which is the new play-ground for the city’s risk-taking wealthy people.   There are many investors doing recce’s on  Fox, Main, Commissioner and Surrounding streets.  I walked past a group  led by a former film producer executive I know who didn’t recognize me of course saying, ” these building are going for next to nothing”  The the potential investors were German, I know this because I heard them speak in German afterwards.

Then I meet up with a news photographer-journalist-friend of mine. I join him at Uncle’ Merves Coffee shop, it is a  pavement vibe, there are vintage like bicycles you can hire for R40 rand for a three-hour cycle around downtown Jozi. It is right next to the Glass Information Caravan, which says Invest, Live and Play in the this area:  Maboneng Prescinct.  Mandla, gosh he’s grown, is manning the trendy stall where potential investors are shown what kind of lifestyle is envisioned for the area.  I’ve known Mandla forever,  when he was just a little boy running up and down the red polished stairs of Berly Court a place I will write about later.  He is handsome and his warm smile and eyes make me feel at home.  I order some coffee,  my journo friend, let’s call him Nat, for Nat Nakasa, the famed 1950’s South African Journalist I was nick-named after  at college, Nat is  drinking beer.  He tells  me he’s just come back from the Annual Rainmaking ceremony at Queen Modjadji’s royal compound in Khetlhakone Village in Limpopo  north of South Africa. He excitedly shows me a picture of his tiny frame in front of a Massive Baobab tree. But no one cares about Queen Modjadji or her rain making ceremony,  much less his readership, he says to me almost dissapointed. I would like to read about it I say to myself. The annual ceremony is usually held in November, some African culture experts say  it’s the African New Year. It doesn’t even matter how you write the story  even, he says, they just don’t care.

He tells me Uncle Merves is now  his  Sunday hang-out spot. He likes to see how so many people go out of their way  to look cool when  walking down Fox street in the Maboneng (a seSotho word  for  lights) District.  It’s fun to people watch he says.  I agree and add that more than the fashion models we’ve seen prancing up and down, there are many wealthy people ( they are never noticeably “fashionable'”) who have been lurking around taking pictures. He agrees and says with an air of irritation about a guy who is taking pictures with a poorer quality lense than he has. There’s a big man in brown clothes and huge locks (dread-locks) hovering behind him, while the other guy takes pictures. I hate it when people just go around taking pictures you know!

He adds ” Anyway, a few years ago I went on  tour with the JDA, Johannesburg Development Agency,  on this tour there were people, mostly investors, the majority of them white, they didn’t have to have money he says. The JDA just gave away buildings to people who have a track record in Asset Development for next to nothing – just like that film executive was saying i think – they will make up fake trans-actions  because one needs a paper trail, or just put down a mere 50 thousand Rands [+- 5, 700 USD] , he says lighting up a Stuyvesant. I miss smoking sometimes, there’s something so cool about it.  They make  their money by developing these ( borrowing to invest, though here it doesn’t seem like they even have to borrow, increasing the return of investment I guess) buildings, creating , luring people, making it a trendy sought after space  and selling that product at a higher price. I’m looking for a place to stay,  a smallish apartment I say out of exhaustion, (i’m always looking for a place to stay) I really want to live in the city, I tell him. Ja, these flats here, at Main street  are like matchboxes, he says.  I agree with Nat. I  tap danced in one them the  other day, the floors are good for that kind of thing.  But mostly they’re like prisons. They are overpriced he says and I agree.   Now Nedbank is trying to do the same in other parts of the city he says. I look around and wonder, where  if I had the money would I buy a building?

I say oh maybe we locals can  join in and buy buildings  too for next to nothing, build them up, have some form of legacy. Nat is not so positive about my suggestions.  No he says, it’s too late for that now. They don’t trust black people, or black entrepreneurship, in fact the whole system he says is  designed against them. Investors have to be assured at least on paper of a good return on investment. How the Hedgefundsworks 101.   So if you’re black that increases the risk and  minimizes potential of a return on investment. It’s already risky  investing in Johannesburg.   I get to thinking that no so long ago I was walking down Jeppe street following the first waves of Xenophobic violence in South Africa. Shops around Jeppe had been looted, vandalized, the area became vacant overnight, this was back in 2008. Property prices must have plummeted significantly  then, making it easier for investors to take up property – the city of Johannesburg must have been desperate to sell off, and get business back into the CBD.

Ah well, he says, with us its all about stomach investments, he says bringing me back to Uncle’s Merves. We locals -black people – invest to eat, we never have money for anything else. I laugh. I hadn’t eaten the whole day. What did I invest in?

Ah, that man! He says with a wide-smile brightening up his face! I glance over at the direction he’s looking at. Acclaimed writer/author/anti-apartheid activist, poet ntate Don Matterra climbs  out of a Jeep,  a woman in dreadlocks, she be pretty, aids him across the street to  a cake and coffee/tea cafe opposite Uncle’ Merves. Tea is in-fashion now! He holds a walking cane. AH! he exclaims again, standing excitedly as if to dance. I had a choice of studying the giants of English  literature, but I chose to read his works on South Africa! Don Mattera, Ai! he exclaims! He’s a legend.  Just goes to show you that time is moving and fast, he says sitting down to face me,  last time I saw him he could walk by himself he says. Do you think you’ll make it to that age? he asks me. I think I will get pretty close I say, thinking how much I really  don’t like talking about death, it’s so defeatist. But seeing Mr Mattera hims self is too ironic at this point even for me.  In his  seminal text: Memory is the Weapon, he writes of Sophiatown, one of apartheid’s most infamous (forced removals) of people in 1955….

“Sophiatown also had its beauty; picturesque and intimate like most ghettoes…. Mansions and quaint cottages … stood side by side with rusty wood-and-iron shacks, locked in a fraternal embrace of filth and felony…. The rich and the poor, the exploiters and the exploited, all knitted together in a colourful fabric that ignored race or class structures.”

Memory is weapon indeed.  Someone said something about rand (ZAR)’s  value expected to depreciate even further this week.  But Investors in downtown Johannesburg don’t seem to be  paying any attention to the Moody’s and Standards and Poore’s.  It’s hard to not to link Hedge-funds and Apartheids’ forced removals, so I won’t. Instead I will spend time in my newest investment; Soweto Poetry – Literary perspectives – An anthology of a Black Consciousness poetry, called the New Black Poetry of the 1970’s South Africa.  Hopefully  those that came before me like, Peter Abrahams, HIE Dlomo, Nat Nakasa, Es’kia Mphahlele, James Mathews, Miriam Tladi, amongst a very long list of South Africa’s Literary commentators,  maybe they will  help me navigate the new Jozi. Already Peter Abrahams

Johannesburg

“Self” poem has got me hooked…

I am a shadow, Restless, Roving everywhere, I’m a bum, hungry and lonely…..

I’m a poet, and through hunger. And lust for love and laughter. I have turned myself into a voice, Shouting the pain of the people.  And the sunshine that is to be.

Sowe-to? From here.