Beyond the biblical definition of what love is: kind, patient, does not boast, does not think of evil, always hopes, is not self-seeking etc. I have had a serious struggle with love, loving and being loved. At times when thinking of love the words of African-American writer James Baldwin came to mind with his very sobering recognition that ‘love does not begin and end the way we think it does, love is a battle, love is a war, love is a growing up” or when he said, “Love takes off the masks we fear we can’t live without and know we cannot live within.”

Here, Baldwin offers a complex understanding of what love is, which contradicts the dominant popular culture or what depictions of love in mainstream media would have us believe.  This type of love, Baldwins’ love calls one out, holds one accountable, forces one to face reality without rose-tinted glasses without the endorphins that rush to the head when we’re in love, obsessed and infatuated with an idea, something or someone. This love is about taking responsibility in this moment, in the now, for future generations. It is about temperance and balance, it is a sobering love.

Yet often when one thinks of love, one is not met with images of war and battles even if those people waging said wars might say they are motivated by the love of country, spouse, family member etc. The word love often conjures up images of comfort, affection, passivity and care.

Instead of love being used as a positive change agent it has become a platitude. Much like, beauty, intensely arresting, fleeting and almost always intangible.

Personally, I have struggled with knowing or identifying what true love is, when love begins, when it ends, when to recommit or when to leave a relationship or situation. I have not always known how to be both loving to myself and to another in such a way that both parties are aware or understand that the act of love is taking place. Often my struggle with love, loving and being loved has been internalized, hidden from view.  At times, my words have fallen on the floor forcing me to retreat further into silence.

Now I understand Baldwins’ assertion of love being a battle and a war, to be one which a person embarks on internally. The journey to love is in effect an interior one, it is an inner conflict – a journey towards an interior conquest and domination of ones’ self, of one’s impulses.  This journey is about developing self-control by voluntarily putting limitations on ones’ desires, urges, anxieties and proclivities.  While the masks love removes can be very personal they also represent the ‘gods”; they are the personification of power structures in any society. Removing the masks in effect removes your dependence on them.

Speaking of race and racism in the 2016 film, I Am Not Your Negro – Baldwin removes race or racism as an objective reason for misbehaviour in our society. “It’s not a racial problem,” he says ” it’s a problem of whether you are able to look at yourself, are willing to look at your life, take responsibility for it and be willing to change it”

Baldwin’s statement which personalises a systemic (structural) problem in diverse global societies might seem misguided at first, but when used to analyse a society like South Africa where Africans and or non-white people hold the seat of power – the truth emerges.  Because within this framework it makes no sense to continue to blame white supremacists’ capitalist patriarchy or Apartheid structures when we are the ones who are in control. The white-supremacy-capitalist-patriarchy complex is no longer an outside enemy personified by white men and women – it is in-fact an idea which resides within- for which we have become willing and active agents.  We have broken through these constructs as fact and understand them to be a  metaphor. We have become representatives of what these metaphors stand for.

So, it makes no sense to continue to focus only on the Guptas or the Zumas, even the ANC as the sole progenitors of our collective malaise. Love would require us to be cognizant of reality; of what is going on, that we are also active agents in our own oppression. We, like them, have fallen victim to these external forces because we lack self-control. We are out of control.  As individuals and as a nation we have voluntarily given our power away. We refuse to take responsibility for our own lives and so for this reason if it’s not Zuma, it’s the Guptas, if it’s not the Guptas it will be white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy if it’s not it will be white monopoly capital, if it’s not then it must be China, if not then it’s the third force, if it’s not the third force, it is the DA, EFF or IFP, if it’s not then it is surely the foreigners, the immigrants, the men, the women, our neighbours and then finally the ever-elusive demons.

This type of thinking allows us to remain perpetual victims; people who are incapacitated – who are always powerless against external interventions.

I think of love today and I know that I cannot claim to truly love anything or anyone if I don’t speak the truth for fear of being abandoned or isolated from it. That’s the risk one must bear as a practitioner of love.  Just like a normal parent.

The Guptas may be on our stoep but we invited them in and served them whiskey or tea on the rocks.

Whether the cause of our pain comes from systemic racism fuelled by white supremacist’s capitalist patriarchy or not, as individual men and women we still need to take responsibility for our roles within the system. We must recognize that we also have something to do with it.   When we do we’ll find out that we have been, for the most part, hiding behind these constructs in order to continue our lives as victims of something or someone because as victims we cannot be held accountable or made responsible for anything that happens to us. Much less what we do or do not do. If we remove white supremacist’s capitalist patriarchy, racism and all its appendices we find that we are ultimately responsible for our lives. We are responsible for our communities, countries and nations. We are responsible for who we are in them, and how we choose to show up.  We are responsible for how we treat each other.

Part of regaining our power will be to embrace radical openness in our public and private lives. To learn or know how to hear information and think critically about it, without eliminating or silencing dissenting voices or every and any opinion that goes against the status quo.  Because the more we suppress and annihilate radical opposing voices the more we will suffer as a result, this is what silencing does, it makes the problem worse. Examples of this are too numerous to list.  Taking control of our personal and public lives, acknowledging our limitations and identifying our strengths; being conscious does not make us victims but equal partners at the seat of power.  Because when we do that, we cease to be slaves to our own appetites, good or bad. We are not victims.

African-American cultural critic and writer bell hooks notes that we’ve always thought of our heroes as having to do with death and war. Referencing  Joseph Campbell and the whole idea of a heroic journey (A Hero With a Thousand Faces)  hooks says this journey is rarely a journey that’s about love, it’s about deeds that have to do with conquering and domination she adds. “Living as we do in a culture of domination, to truly choose to love is heroic, to work at love to really let yourself understand the art of loving.”

To choose to be patient, or kind.  To trust, to always hope and to persevere.

That’s power.




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 !



(pictured; American Actress Tracee-Allen Ross and her mom, singer Diana Ross)

One day as I was walking down Grant Avenue I bumped into an old friend. She was standing outside a restaurant having a smoke and talking to someone. We were so surprised to see each other because it had been such a long time since we met. Jedi! She greets me, her face lighting up. Hi! How are you? What are you doing here? We asked in unison. I’m here for work, how about you? Well it’s my birthday and I’m out here having dinner with my family, this is my mom. She said, introducing me to the woman who was standing next to her having a smoke. Hi, nice to meet you! I said. After which my friends’ mom began asking me questions I couldn’t really answer. Are you in business? No, I’m not. Oh, you look like someone who is. No, no I’m not. Are you married? No, I’m single. Do you have children? No, I don’t have any.  I was starting to feel very sorry for myself when she said, Oh good, You mustn’t be like her she said pointing at my friend, she has three children from different fathers and she’s not even married. Yes, you must stay single with no children.

At first I couldn’t believe what I had just heard, I looked to my friend for support and she looked at me with eyes that said don’t mind her let’s talk about something else. So I actually live down the road from here! Oh do you? Yeah, we should arrange to meet some time, she continued. Yes, sure that will be great, I responded, I’ll find you on Facebook I concluded and continued on my way.  That moment was hurtful. I felt so bad  for my friend afterward, I wished I could have taken her away somewhere nice to celebrated her birthday. I wished I could have said something to her mom about how awesome I thought my friend was. How I had seen her drive and determination to build a great life first for herself and then later for her children. She worked hard as an architect for her firm despite everything – despite the turmoil in her life she kept it together.  But I also didn’t want to be the one to get in between a mother and daughters’ relationship. In that moment I could not come up with a diplomatic response that would both affirm my friend and her character while still respecting her mom whom I had just met. There was just not enough time.

So I followed my friends lead and talked about something else. It really broke my heart that despite everything else my friend had achieved in her life  her mother chose to focus on her weakness. As if she was the only one to blame for the fact that her relationships didn’t work out. Relationship always take two people to work. Even though her mom may have been right about her daughter’s poor choices, it was her daughter’s birthday, a day usually meant to celebrate someone’s’ life instead of pointing out all the areas in it that are not so great.  She chose to say nasty things about her own daughter in front of someone she didn’t even know on the day she was meant to celebrate her and her life.

Even though that situation left me feeling sad for my friend it  also at the same time made me feel  proud of her. I was amazed by her strength of character because she didn’t  respond to her mother’s hurtful statements. She didn’t try to disprove what she was saying or even disrespect her. She just continued talking to me as if her mom had paid her the biggest compliment a daughter can ever wish for. She was stronger for it. I admired  her  more after that very brief encounter because she was able to rise above a situation which would have destroyed me had the roles been reversed. She chose to honour and respect her mom in that moment, regardless. My friend  had grown up.

Come to think of it, I  also walked away without saying a word in my friends defence because she was her mom right?

So, as hard at it may be sometimes, remember.

She’s your mom.

“love does not begin and end the way we think it does. Love is a  battle, Love is a  war, love is a growing up” James Baldwin



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.


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!!!








I have considered a number of titles for this post. I have thought endlessly about using other people’s words to attract your attention. I thought maybe a play on So Long  A letter (1981) a title of the only book published by Miriam Ba, paired with, because I love pairs, Junot Diaz’s  This is how you lose her (2012), replacing lose with love of course, would be a perfect dish commenting on how we relate to each other and ourselves as men and women.  How do we love? Where do we even begin the conversation when she doesn’t know what love looks like and he doesn’t know what love feels like?

So Long, A letter: This is how you Love her

I thought I could use my own personal experience which this blog has been about for the  past five years. I wanted to use Zadie Smith’s eloquence  to finally  reveal myself to myself at the same time as I reveal this self to you. I thought I could re-use her words which she said in a conversation about what makes any fiction writer good; honesty: lying to tell the truth. But I wasn’t sure I could actually do that with without reproducing the contents of my daily journal – raw as it is, to you.  Still I don’t want to be that honest with you, and pretending that I am is also dishonest because honestly what is the truth really? Who knows this truth if I don’t?

Honesty: Lying to tell the truth

Truth led me to think about knowledge and if what we know is always truthful?  Are our experiences without fault? Or does it depend from which and with what perspective we are looking at something, someone or an event?  How about the imagination? The stories we invent? If we can write real events and call them fiction, what then  is non-fiction? So staying with Zadie Smith I thought perhaps I could go with a single headline this time with no pairings: Complete Knowledge is Impossible. I thought perhaps we can  agree that this is as close to the truth as we shall ever get, since and you will excuse the repetition here, more knowledge is always possible but what we know is never complete. But then of course I had to think about why it is I am writing to you now. As I dug deeper, the words of Sufi Master  Rumi, began to haunt me begging me to repeat them out loud to you, to be, here’s that word again, honest, because he wrote what I often feel:  ‘Everyday this pain, either you’re numb or you don’t understand love. I write out my love story. You see the writing, but you don’t read it’

 Complete Knowledge is Impossible

When I find myself each week deep in the ocean, diving in, searching for words, letters and phrases overwhelmed with picking just the right one so that you and the person next to you can read me and perhaps find some resonance. I can’t help but wonder if it is all worth it. Not because no one is reading, but because maybe I think this one particular person who matters to me is not.  Junot Diaz said something which I agree with; you write to explain and describe your world to yourself but always with the hope that someone will join you in your journey.

Write Now

In this way writing has been my hope for another tomorrow. Perhaps I have not always sat studiously at the desk adding words diligently together to form that perfect phrase or paint a perfect picture, but in every moment of every day, I write. When I walk I’m writing, when dancing or talking I am writing. Everything I do is about writing, can I write about this? How can I tell a story about washing a car? Making tea? Being so drunk. Or sweeping the driveway. Every object I touch is a story, when I am washing dishes each plate is a character, women having a bath, a party of five, all the kitchen utensils are constantly having conversations about stories I must write.

Those Sweet Words  

Recently I was reminded of one the most moving prose-poems I have ever read The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (1999), which comprises of a series of questions which I have tried to answer by fully living them. I’ve looked like a fool for love, for my dream and the adventure of being alive. Until I arrived at the very beginning. A place where I am no longer defined by what I have or what I do.

In the Invitation

And so despite being a woman  of many, many, words, it has been my experience that some of the best and most defining moments in my life have occurred without too many of them.  The most poignant and beautiful memories have remained undocumented, unrecorded, unwritten, unsaid, pictured or televised. They have not been described, analysed or scrutinized. There is no evidence. No proof. No paper trail, no data to measure their validity, value or worth.

For Me 

Since the day  I  heard the words which described the  shape of my heart, I have been rendered utterly speechles, not  because I was unwilling to speak. But   because I was simply unable to express in words the joy  I felt inside, because I didn’t know that I didn’t know what real joy feels like. I drove myself crazy analysing facts and being rational.  Trying to describe and explain infinity.  I now understand what everyone who has ever said follow your heart  actually meant.

Nothing Works Until You Do

I have sat in silence alone with myself and have learnt to love the company I keep when nothing is happening. When I’m listening, I can  accept and enjoy life for what it is, in that very moment not what it pretends to be. In this way all my words have been reduced to one. For your ears only.

until soon.






This week a man I used to love dearly  sent me a message informing me that he is married now. I congratulated him and told him I was glad he found the one for him. He said I will find someone too one day. I told him I was not looking and he responded by saying, Sorry! I was slightly amused by his response since I was not looking when we first met so I told him not be sorry, because I wasn’t.  Our conversation continued to other topics and after it ended I couldn’t help thinking about life, love and relationships and how unpredictable and deceptive they can be.

Looking back it was simply amazing to see how relationships I thought would definitely work like the one I had with him, didn’t and those I thought wouldn’t survive a day have. In many ways this year has been a year of incredible love stories – many of which I have been fortunate enough to bear witness to and even be a link to in some small ways, while others have unraveled  spectacularly at the seams others  have come together in the most exquisitely beautiful ways.

This particular  conversation touched me because it was  a moment of saying goodbye to an idea, to a life I once led, to a hope I once held so dearly and so close to my heart. I realized as I unpacked his emotional trinkets that I had been carrying him with me all this while,  I wasn’t aware that I had left the door slightly open, a little bit ajar, just in case I was wrong about him. His message was calling me to wake up to  the reality that this particular dream, the one where we end up together in the end will never come true and that it was in all honesty never real to begin with, it was just simply a mirage.

So I began this week to wash and fold the laundry of our relationship, emptying my suitcase of all items I had kept safe, pieces of colourful clothing which never quite fit, from the white sandals, the orange jacket, the pictures, the memories, the music,  the promises to have and to hold, forever. The shoes were a size too small and the jacket was two sizes too big, but I wore it anyway, hoping that I would one day grow in the jacket or that my feet would somehow shrink and I would be Cinderella.  The illusion disappeared. After packing away what was never mine and handing the items over to charity, a beautiful moment of nostalgia overwhelmed me and a memory of a clever ad emerged as if from a dream. One of the most amazing and ingenious advertisement I had ever seen between the luxury cars BMW and Mercedes-Benz.   Chrisannes Kousas a South African marketing student  wrote about it in her blog  House of marketing.  And it goes like this:

“There is a coastal road in Cape Town, South Africa, called Chapman’s Peak. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful sightseeing attractions in the whole of Africa. The road winds through spectacular coastal-mountain scenery, with cliffs sinking into the  Atlantic ocean on one side, and steep mountains towering over the road on the other side. Despite its beauty, this road is a notoriously dangerous one to drive on, as it consists of 114 sharp, meandering, bends in the road. Several years ago, a gigantic coastal cleanup campaign was launched, and a helicopter pulled 22 car wrecks out of the water adjacent to Chapman’s Peak. A well-known story in the area resurfaced: it was the tale of an Irish businessman who lost control of his Mercedes-Benz when driving along this road in 1988, and plunged 100m down one of the cliffs. Miraculously, he not only survived the accident, but crawled out of the wreckage with hardly a scratch on his body. Mercedes heard about this story, and were so impressed with the safety features and stability of their car, that they decided to base their new advertisement on the story. For the advertisement, they drove a Mercedes off the road in the exact same location. In the TV advertisement, the Mercedes plunges off the edge of the cliff, but then the driver survives, to illustrate the phenomenal safety features of Mercedes-Benz. BMW noticed this ad, and ingeniously mimicked it. A week later, they showed a BMW driving along the exact same stretch of road in the rain, however, when it reached the point at which the Mercedes plunged off the cliff, the BMW negotiated it safely, and continued driving along the road. The catchphrase” Would it not make sense to drive a luxury car that beats the Benz? The line referring both to the bends on the road and the Mercedes Benz which failed to conquer the road.”

The BMW rebuttal was a moment of awesome inspiration.  I have loved it since school days. I identify with BMW and  the fact that I have survived this and other romantic interactions so far without falling off the cliff is testimony to the fact that some people are just simply designed to beat the bends.  But more significantly  and to quote actress Kerry Washington (because she puts it brilliantly) “I realized that I don’t have to be perfect.  All I have to do is show up and enjoy the messy, imperfect journey of my life”.

And this journey, the one I’m on right now,  I’m beginning to Like it, very much :).

Watch both ads below.

Mercedes Benz



“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.” ― Bob Marley


Wedding season is fast approaching for those in  the Northern Hemisphere and since my head is often in the clouds I have been thinking about the subject of romantic love and the related concept of “just knowing’.   I am always interested in love narratives, why people decide to get married and to their partners, how they met, why it worked out or didn’t work out once they’re divorced. I find even the most clinical arrangements interesting and when there is no one to probe or if couples are cagey about details, I look to my own string of failed attempts at relationships and try to be objective about the reasons why they didn’t work out. Especially when most of them are now beginning to fill my Facebook timeline with pictures of their married and paired up lives in what seems like loving and healthy relationships.  In my digging and probing, I am actually searching for that illusive “I just know” moment.

All the couples I have asked about how they knew that their partner was the one they were willing to commit a sizable portion of their lives to, the answer has always been and without exception “we just knew”. This answer has been nagging me for years, how do you “just know” something like that?  I have had many instances in my life when I could have said  “I just knew” but since I am single,   I must have clearly missed something really important.  My mother and I laughed till our bellies were sore and the potjie on the stove almost turned into coals this weekend when we watched Ugandan comedienne Kansiime Annes’ skit, in which she took matters into her own hands and proposed that her partner of five years upgrade her to the status of fiance right there and then on a night out at a restaurant. She brought the ring, wine glasses and a bottle of wine for the décor and a happy smile with giggles to complete the mood while her partner remained perplexed. The clip was a follow-up to another skit where she had to literally position herself at the door for the man of her dreams to notice her and even then he had to be thoroughly persuaded.

Later in the evening I showed my father the proposal video which made him laugh and after we were tired from laughing I asked my father how he knew.  He replied and said you guessed it: “you just know”.

There it is again, none of the couples seem able to offer an explanation or elaborate  further on just how they “know” exactly. To put salt to the wound they say these words “just know” with such a mysterious  sense of self-satisfaction, it makes me feel as  if I’ve been left out of the world’s biggest secrete. How do all these people “just know” something so important and I don’t?

So I decided to change the question a little since I was not making progress with the how question. I asked my father “when do you know or more specifically when do men know?” I must admit I didn’t expect the answer to this question. “The first day you meet the girl” he replied. The first day? I was incredulous, I thought that maybe one would know after three months or so but on the first day? How do you know anything on the first day? I was shocked to say the least. “Yes” my father replied calmly hiding a smile. ” You know on the first day and the rest of the time you’re just confirming what you know or making preparations or arrangements to get married” he said moving the food on his plate methodically.” Really?” I repeated just to be sure I heard right, now all my failed relationships made sense, everything made sense in a new and fresh way, a new feeling swept over me… complete relief. “If a guy hasn’t proposed or talked about marriage within a few weeks or three to six months of meeting you, then they’re still not sure” He said diplomatically. But I knew what he meant.“when they know they have met the one they want to marry, they don’t waste time” he said.

So this is most probably the most useful piece of information on love and romance I have ever received in my life. I wondered to myself why I didn’t ask him sooner. I lamented all the wasted time with people who knew from day one that I was not what they wanted. At the same time I thought this is wonderful news, finally I have confirmation. There’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.  If a person knows that they want you “forever” on the first day read: day one that they meet you there’s very little you can do about it, except to say yes or no once they ask.   Of course I have observed that men  especially and women for that matter can and will do and say just about anything to get what they want. So if he’s decided you’re his wife ( because that’s already decided the first day you meet) he won’t let anything or anyone stop him except of course, you.

So while this is enlightening it still doesn’t answer my all-important how question. How do you know if someone is the right one for you? All my  13 years of “dating research” corroborate my father’s statement. He’s right. I have seen people I’ve liked make a bee line for my friends as if I didn’t’ exist. Or seem to show interest in me one day and then introduce me to their fiancé’s the next.   This has led me to one conclusion.

You arrive at a place of “just knowing” when you know yourself, when you fully accept all about you good and bad. Once you know who you are, what you want and where you want to go in life then you’ll “just know” when you meet someone who is right for you.  And the odds are you’ll probably be, as I am now, the last one to know about it.


My last attempt at a relationship was a complete disaster.

He was perfect. For me it was love at first sound.

He was not a typical Hollywood stud. But he had me at Hello, Hello.

I was skeptical. He was sure.

We drank the truth serum.

The first night was sweet.

The second night he wanted out.

I told him I understood.

He changed his mind.

The third night we heard silence.

He made coffee in the morning.

We sang a duet.


His arms wrapped around my waist

I wore black pants and a grey top

He wore black pants and  a grey top.

I ran.

None had shown me such tenderness.

Are you for real?

He called and said we should just be friends.

I agreed and promptly stopped breathing.

A few months later he came crushing into my basement.

With his electronic baggage.

I said I could take it.

We spoke hardly.

We told each other lies.

We were happy.

In our separate rooms.

He saw me crying.

I saw him naked.

I said I love you

He said he  didn’t know what to say.

He was skeptical. I was sure.


Does a good career guarantee romance?
Does a good career guarantee romance?

A week ago a friend and fellow journalist posted a question on her Facebook page which intrigued me. When I first read her question I immediately wanted to write about it. But I thought it wise to wait and clean out the cobwebs in the  attic of my mind and heart before writing a conclusive argument on an issue I have been wrestling with for many years. You must wonder then what the question was.  Here it is:

‘So if you had a love interest that you know is not too good at his job, would you still be interested?”

My default or rather instinctual response to her question was  to pose another:  Are you interested in the job or in the man? By the time 30 people posted their comments on her stream, many of them responding with an emphatic no for an answer;  I realized that I had not given this subject the due consideration it deserves.

The Play ground

So I decided to go back to my childhood playground and  revisit the way in which we played as children or the ways in which children play  in order to better understand how we “play” as adults today. The playground like the office or any other corporate environment  is not for the faint hearted. Children as with colleagues and bosses can be very  callous  with their words and actions. The main difference however  is  that children  tend to be more honest and speak  truth much more than adults do. So you always know where you stand in the playground. It’s obvious.  Children  are also less likely to be conniving, malicious or do anything they don’t feel like doing despite  fervent admonitions, unless of course there’s an adult at hand who might be more persuasive.  Let me use myself as an example.

I am one of five children and grew up within a large extended family.This meant that  my playground was effectively  at home as my friends were my siblings and cousins, aunts and uncles.  I hardly played with other children at school, often preferring to keep my own company.  It is safe to say that I never learnt quite how to “make” friends because I never felt that I needed friends to begin with and If I did I already had “friends” at home.  It was on very rare occasions ( and often under chaperon) that I played with other children ( children I was not related to) in the neighbourhood. As a result while I did not actively pursue friendships with others, I was always curious about the “other”. In other words I was always drawn to or curious about people who were not already part of my own family.

At home we played together almost all the time except when we were at school or when one of us was ill.  We used school as an opportunity to explore new things, find new information, which we would later re-enact/ share/teach /exchange  with each other back home.  Even though at various points in our childhood all of us went to the same school, we never “hung- out” together – preferring other people or “friends” to each others company. Of course we would share everything about the “other” once at home.  Some in the family were more successful at making  friends ( bringing new people home) than others. I was generally not good at making friends.  At school I was a loner, awkward, shy, reserved, timid and mostly an outsider looking in, who was a source of jokes or an easy target for bullies. So as a result I kept to myself and never tried to infiltrate the sacred world of school “playground” relationships. Whether by default or as a result of my  own anti-social conditioning – at school I always assumed the role of the observer. I spent most of my time in and outside of class either watching people, reading or day-dreaming.

On Home Ground.

At home I was a completely different person to the timid, reserved girl, who seemed lonely and alone. At home  it was lights, camera, action! At home I was free to live out my wildest dreams, with my siblings or by myself on the mirror. At home I could sing, dance, walk around naked, tease my brother until he cried. At home I was an outgoing, confident, strong girl, who was also talkative, full of drama and  loved to perform. I think a part of me emulated many of the characters I saw at school. I beguiled my mother and siblings with stories of my classmates and teachers while doing  impersonations of them.  Going to school for me was like a game. Because at home I learnt the serious art of studying my “friends” based on their parents relationship with my parents. I keenly watched how the elder’s behaved and used that knowledge to interpret, correctly or erroneously,  the behavior of my siblings and or cousins, uncles and aunts. Even though I knew we all “loved” each other – I knew that their (as with my)  loyalty lay with those who fed them, sent them to school and loved them when no one else was around to witness such love. Ultimately no matter how much  we as children “loved” being together it was never up to us to decide the fate of our relationship. It was the parents who did.  So regardless of what was said, actions always spoke louder than words. I also knew that you can never really know a person until you have at least met their family, you can never understand another, until you know his or her parents. So in life I learnt, that unless I met your mom or dad or your family, I was not your friend. And our friendship would not last long if your parents and or most of your family did not like our friendship and  visa versa. As a child I intrinsically understood the nuance and  dynamic nature of familial relationships and the influence they have in our lives, whether we care to admit it or not.  I learnt that with people nothing was ever cast in stone, and that relationships could sour quickly and  end without much notice, provocation or any particular reason. I learnt that  it was best to accept those relationships as they were rather than  “fight against” the storm.   Even in my childhood play(home)ground there were  hierarchies, formed along the same lines we use to form relationships in our adult lives or in the “business world”.   Even within my own family, friendships were formed  according to  age group, language, familiarity, common interests, good looks, special skills/ability, access (money/influence) and geography ( how often they see each other). And you would be favoured/despised at different times, days, years  depending on which of the above mentioned skills  you had acquired or lost not to mention the state of parental relationships.  So one holiday you may be the butt of all jokes, the next holiday you might be the popular one whom everyone is focused on and wants to be with, favour was seasonal and fleeting. It was always a mystery to me how this worked. But I learnt that I could never  base “love” on any of those “things” which were wonderful to have,  but never seemed to last. Love was a deep connection shared between two people which could never be  quantified.

Love Has Everything To Do with IT

Going back and re-examining my childhood and the behavior we displayed as children in our different “home” playgrounds re-enforced my instinctual question – Do you love the person or the Job? Why? Because even in childhood finding a  good mate to play and just “be” with  – even within such a conducive home  environment – was not always easy.   Sometimes your siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, had other interests which were very different from yours. This differing interests would necessitate a compromise either from one person or group – in order for a the ‘game’ to continue. If there was no agreement, there would be no game. Sometimes you had to be content in your own company even if you were in a room full of people, because none of them shared similar interests to you or wanted to participate in the particular activity you were interested in at the time.   For example I enjoyed classical music but  my older sister loved popular music  and R&B, because she was older and had a more dominant  (parental like) role in our relationship she more than often got her way.  So I had to either choose to also enjoy her brand of music or go somewhere else and do something else. Often there was nowhere else to go.  So I learnt how to be present or absent from a place without ever leaving the room. Even though this may seem like torture it helped me to understand my siblings better, to know what they liked and didn’t like, what they enjoyed, what they were like in the morning, how they slept in bed, what they were like when they were happy, sad, hungry, irritated, scared, angry. And knowing all this made our bond stronger and closer and the love we had for each other had nothing at all to do with our marks at school.  Our love didn’t depend on the our performance at school or at home. Whether I passed or failed didn’t change how much I loved my siblings. Of course we would celebrate if one of us did well, and empathize with each other if the other did not do so well.  But the love didn’t come from what they did or didn’t do, it was about sharing all the good and bad things in life together. My siblings were always there, annoying and angelic  sometimes, I know where I stand with them.  I learnt that love is a choice. A decision you make everyday. And it  a choice or decision you can extend to everyone.

 I chose to love a long time ago!

So while finding a mate who is brilliant or great at their job is wonderful and would be much preferred. I think it is a weak trait to base your decision on. Do you love the man. The person, the human being.  His personality. His character. Do you share his values. His  principles. His aspirations.  Do you enjoy being with this person. Are you free with them. Can you share yourself with them? Can you imagine yourself changing the world with this person ? Do you love them? I think those can be more enlightening questions to ask. In fact it might even be more beneficial to meet the person’s family and relatives  first before making a decision. Considering how hard it is to find someone who can love you (more) like family does, someone who loves you for  who you are, not what you can or cannot do. I would  shy away from someone who loves me because of my job or status in life. Because that has nothing to do with love, that’s just about  appearances and material things. Love shows up when times are hard and sticks around to celebrate with you when you triumph. Yes relationships are costly, and it is only when you truly love someone that it wouldn’t even occur to you to count the cost. Because ultimately – money, career, status, influence – can never buy you love.  While some things are possible to achieve and maintain without love – with love – everything is possible. Only love can change people for the better. But you can never make or force anyone to love you no matter how good you are at your job!

That’s my opinion.