LOVE ACROSS THE BORDER: CAN YOU AFFORD TO FALL IN LOVE?

If food is the way to a man’s heart, 33-year-old *Thembi Nkosi seemed to have the exact Global Positioning System (GPS) co-ordinates to *Soren Adamsen’s.  The couple met ten years ago at a mutual friends’ Johannesburg home for dinner which Nkosi an invited guest and professional chef, ended up cooking from start to finish. It was shortly after taking bites of  Nkosi’s lemon chicken dish that Adamsen, a Danish national was permanently hooked on her. “Two months or so later after our first meeting he invited me to Denmark and introduced me to his family and friends” says Nkosi a South African citizen. “I guess he is only human” she says, explaining why Adamsen found her so irresistible.  After ten years of travelling between South Africa and Denmark the couple finally decided to take the plunge and build a life together in 2013.  This meant that Thembi Nkosi  and her three-year old daughter  had to  move from South Africa and join Soren Adamsen in Denmark using the family re-unification visa for entry. First the couple had to prove that they had lived together for two years consecutively in order to qualify for a visa,  an issue which presented a huge challenge for the couple.“The family unification process is a laborious one” says Adamsen, who works as a journalist for a leading investigative television program in Copenhagen.  “We had to fill out at least 100 pages of documents justifying why we wanted to be re-united or why we wanted to live together.”  He says adding that “Our initial application was rejected” Adamsen and Nkosi like many other couples who’ve had to apply for family re-unification visa’s found the process punitive and sometimes unfair. While the family re-unification laws in most EU countries require applicants to apply from their country of residence, those who do, do so at their own risk as they are more likely to be rejected from the outset. “We paid a big price for being honest, and trying to do things the right way” says Adamsen, adding that from his perspective the laws seem to favour those who are dishonest or cheat the process. The process however was even more frustrating for Nkosi as the paper work and all forms were written in Danish and she was ostensibly  excluded from the entire visa application process. Yet in the end it was not the paper-work nor the bureaucracy that would finally open the doors to a life together for the couple.  Money was the key without which it would have been impossible for them to be re-united even if they met all the other required criteria. “Soren had to get a bank guarantee loan of 50 thousand Kroner, equivalent to 100,000 ZAR  as an insurance” Says Nkosi.  Fortunately for the couple, Adamsen who is financially solvent and had not been on state-welfare in the past two to five years  qualified for a  bank guarantee  and the family was able to be re-united  six months after the initial application process.“I think it’s just another way for government to make it difficult to families to be together” says Adamsen. “For other people it may be difficult (to acquire the funds)  but for us the money issue was irrelevant. We just wanted to be together and I did everything in my power to make sure that, that happens, but it is still upsetting to know that government can have the last word on a private issue such as who you decide to spend your life with.” New family re-unification laws in the United Kingdom came under the spotlight last year  after a couple in Cornwall was denied a family re-unification visa due to insufficient funds. In 2013 the UK issued new regulations which stipulate that UK residents wanting to sponsor a loved one from a non- European Economic Area ( EEA)  should earn a minimum of 18 thousand Pounds or 311, 973 Rands a year  or about 25 thousand rands a month. The amount increases with each child a couple has.  The  British Home office staunchly defended its policy  in court  justifying the financial requirement as being part of an effort to help immigrants to integrate. When asked by a judge if the home office was suggesting that an affluent person would integrate more easily than a poor person, the response was “yes”.  London, the capital city of the United Kingdom is currently the billionaire capital of the world with a recorded 104 Billionaires  living in the city. UK officials say the new visa regulations introduced in 2012 are working as intended and estimated that the new policy would reduce family visa applications by 17,800 a year.   Under the EU directive on the right to family reunification non-EU nationals can bring their spouse, under-age children and the children of their spouse to the EU State in which they are residing. After a maximum of five years of residence, family members may apply for autonomous status if the family links still exist. The Directive only however only applies to 25 member states excluding the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland which determine their own criteria for family reunification. The UK is currently canvassing for new EU reforms which will ensure even tougher or stricter  legislation on benefits for migrants. While South African immigration law does not use money as the main criteria ( there is no financial threshold only proof of affordability) for family re-unification visa’s or family relative visas. The visa application process can be extremely tedious (littered with bureaucratic misunderstandings)  for relatives applying through the South African Home Affairs offices. *Lamya Luall, a Sudanese-American writer, married to a South African says US visa policies make it comparatively easier for families to be together. “My husband is eligible for permanent residence or green card as soon as we are married, his residence papers once issued are first on a conditional basis, to ensure people are still married but after two years the conditions are lifted and a full green card is issued which is good for 15 years.” She said.   However South Africa does not have a residency or work permit option for spouses once married. ” There’s a relatives permit, which needs to be renewed every two years pending police Clearance, a TB test, doctors clearance and a host of other requirements.” She adds “You have to hire lawyers (who don’t come cheap) to help because most people at home affairs aren’t familiar with these rules.” She said concluding “I can only be eligible for permanent residence in South Africa after 5 years of proving a marriage and/or life partner relationship. I could only apply for citizenship after 10 years”.  Lamya says marriage to a South African  does not make the process any easier. She says she will be applying for a separate special skills visa  which does not have a two-year renewal requirement.   Even though the process of applying for a family re-unification visa in Denmark would have been made  much easier had  Thembi Nkosi and Soren Adamsen decided to tie the knot Nkosi says she didn’t want to get married for a visa, she wants to marry for love. “I’m a catholic girl after all, I still want the official proposal. I want fire works!” She concluded.   *original names changed to protect identity

QUIET DIPLOMACY : MY SECRET LOVE AFFAIR WITH WEST AFRICA

30-LOVE

” You will look back at this and be proud of yourself, you will come out of this stronger and wiser” said my  older sister – looking lovingly at me in the plane. We were on an  early morning  South African Airways (SAA) flight  to South Africa from Senegal in what is arguably the most  extraordinary life-changing experience of my life.  I was surprised she didn’t  shout and scream at me  or ask  ” what were you thinking?!”  I was in tears, barely able to say a word without crying. She looked at me lovingly though with the kindness I didn’t think I deserved. She smiled and laughed with that sweet giggle that seems to go on forever… when I heard her laughing  I knew that everything would be okay … eventually. I wasn’t  crazy and I had not imagined things.  Having her sitting next  to me  eased my nausea.  I was so heartbroken  I was sure I was going to throw up  my heart, crushed to pieces like  shards of  glass in a pool of blood and gore all over the airplane’s floor – I was so hurt. I couldn’t for the life of me  understand how my best laid plans could have gone so horribly wrong.  Why I had to leave. Why my dreams came crushing down on me like the like the twin tours, on an ordinary Sunday.

We went through all the  different scenarios on the flight home. I kept going over and over what had happened. I had to make absolutely sure for myself that I had made the right decision to go home.  She assured me I had.  Still  I wasn’t sure that leaving Senegal, the country of my  re-birth  made  for a bright idea. But I had doubts, many doubts in fact about a lot of things and needed someone better skilled in the art of diplomacy and crisis management  to help me figure things out.

IN HER FOOTSTEPS…

I was there in part because of her, my sister.   She doesn’t know this because I’ve never had the courage to tell her. She was (is) my inspiration – she was (is) the reason I wanted to do TV reporting and not just on any old subject. But on the subject of African Politics or should I say the  Politics of Africa.  I used to watch her  religiously on  Television as she reported from one country after another. She would come back briefly, and I would joke with her  little just to see her smile or  offer to make her coffee just to be near her. I admired her work. I admire who she is. But she was always busy and always on the road. In the early 2000’s working as a radio journalist I often  read up on the Organization for African Unity ( OAU) the formation of the new body the African Union, the formation of  the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)  the PAN African Parliament,  South African Development Community (SADC).  And  tried as much as I could to keep myself informed about issues relating to Africa’s re-birth, though at the time I thought I had no practical use for the information. I always made a mental note to research any story or country she reported on. If I had an idol in TV  journalism she would be the first  Ms MS, then  Christiane Amampour  and Paula Slier.  She made journalism  beautiful, lyrical, a moving living, tangible history lesson. My love for her was intensified by a common vision and life purpose. It has been my best kept secrete love affair, until now, because I’m telling you.

So that is why when the opportunity presented itself back in  2011 to visit  Senegal in West Africa I did not hesitate.  Up until then I had not travelled to West Africa or Senegal and had no experience of the region. I called everyone but her  letting them know I was leaving.  I knew that the best way to learn anything is by doing (experiencing it) at least that has been the best way  I learn.  Though I had planned to  visit  Senegal  for a month-long holiday,  at the back of my mind I was prepared to stay for as long as possible and thus do some kind of “soft launch”of my free-lance  career as a  West African Correspondent. So I packed accordingly. I was prepared to give my all in pursuit of  a dream. Purpose.

WAAW!!!

The first six months were a whirlwind romance. I could not have hoped for a better landing.  It was full of exciting adventures  and nights filled with milk and honey on cloud nine. I mean I could not believe how beautiful the Senegalese  were. Inside and out. I found myself a new home, I loved the language, and enjoyed the general lifestyle, the tea, food,  dancing, the art, reggae, fabrics, fashion,  I didn’t have to wear a watch as calls to prayer would tell me exactly what time it was, fish and rice were abundant…the beach was always around the corner, the streets were a sight for sore eyes: colourful, bright and full of  well toned men with lean muscular bodies,  similarly tall skinny, well-shaped women in colorful dresses and elaborate hairstyles. There was a  gentle harmonious, peaceful rhythm to Senegal that made living and being alive there a pleasure.  I made a million and one radio sound-scapes and documentaries in my head.  I could step right out of my room into a cab or car-rapid, I could turn a corner and get tea or coffee at less than a rand a piece, airtime was being sold at all corners…fruits, vegetables everything I could think of was at my fingertips.  All of it made absolute sense to me. I was HOME. Even the things I would not ordinarily “agree” with or “accept” back in South Africa would not bother me so much here in my very own paradise.  Even their working hours – late nights – were more in tune with the natural rhythm of my physiology.

DOUBLE- SPEAK

South Africa and Senegal at the time still enjoyed a cordial diplomatic relationship even though relations had soured  bitterly  under former Presidents Abdoulaye Wade and  Thabo Mbeki  who were engaged in a  protracted  tug of  war over who had a better plan for Africa:  President Abdoulaye Wade with the Omega Plan  or Thabo Mbeki with the  African Renaissance.  Eventually it was agreed that both documents  which had slight differences be merged into  one plan  called the New Plan for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).  A plan  which President Wade later  became one of its  fiercest critics accusing the body of wasting money in talk-shops  instead of putting NEPAD’s plans into actions on the ground in other words implementing, this despite him being a sitting chairman of  NEPAD.  Never the less South African citizens during this time did no require visa’s to enter the West African nation famous for its friendliness. Which is another reason why it was an easy choice for me.

SENEGAL CHOSE ME….

By February 2012, three months in the country I was working as a free-lance  journalist for  South Africa based media houses, I had already auditioned and landed the job anchoring a  Weekly current affairs TV show called E-mag on Radio  Television Senegalese (RTS). I was also working as a producer and anchor for a  local regional radio station, West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR)  funded by OSIWA. I was having a great time actually. I knew – despite the many  obstacles and challenges which faced me each step of the way, I knew in the pit of my stomach that  I was meant to be there.
Senegal Celebrates it’s Independence on the 4th of April – my birth date. We were meant to be.

I was just about to say “I do” when my mother called to say I should come home before I make any major decisions.  I agreed. And soon found myself back home in South Africa, unsure of  how to proceed with my vision. I found work  and decided in my heart that I would save up and let everybody know that I was going back.   I kept this dream alive everyday and  worked hard with a single-minded  focus of going back “home”. Making sure to plan everything better this time. The first time I went at the invitation of a friend – armed only with a dream in my pocket and nothing else.  This time would surely be better…

DARE TO INVENT THE FUTURE…

” Are we not cool with anyone?” A friend of mine, Visual Artist Breeze Yoko recently asked on his facebook page. He has just been selected to be part of this year Invisible Borders Trans- African  – an art led initiative, founded in Nigeria in 2009 by a group of passionate artists mostly photographers with a drive and urge to affect change in society though art. The artists  are meant to travel around the continent creating and thinking beyond borders.  Yoko lamented “South Africans need visas for almost all the countries on this continent. Out of 11 countries I’m passing through, i need a visa for all 11. What the fuck is that, are we not cool with anyone?  Nigeria – Benin – Togo – Ghana – Cote d’Ivoire – Liberia – Sierra Leone – Guinea – Senegal – Mauritania – Morocco. Then who are our friends, tell me who? In South America a lot of the countries don’t want a visa from us… but my own continent, why mara why?”

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE…

After Seven months of working in South Africa, I was finally ready. Already relations between South Africa and Senegal were  becoming quietly hostile.  And despite admonitions from home to refrain from going back to Senegal, I was intent on going despite what anyone said.  News of the 2008 Xenophobic attacks against African foreign nationals in South Africa were a hard pill to swallow for many Africans who still held the country in high esteem. But the Marikana Massacre in which more than 50 protesting miners were killed by police, left many stone-cold, and revealed just how much Apartheid had destroyed South Africa’s humanity, the nations’ psyche. We were not well. I couldn’t explain this on my arrival in January 2013 to my family in Senegal. Visuals of the killings were a common sight on many television screens.  But it was South Africa’s refusal to grant visa’s to 10 Senegalese journalists travelling to South Africa to cover the  Soccer confederations cup that broke the camels back. Senegal’s  newly appointed  President Macky Sall  wasted no time announcing that South African citizens  be required to apply for  visas to gain entry into the country. By then at least two South African women had been found dead under mysterious circumstances in Senegal.  The South Africa Embassy in Dakar warned.

MONEY TALKS

Nigeria – Benin – Togo – Ghana – Cote d’Ivoire – Liberia – Sierra Leone – Guinea – Senegal – Mauritania are all part of the 15 countries which make up the economic Commission of West African States or ECOWAS, which Senegal was chair.  I soon found out that South Africa had no  real economic (commercial – trade)  ties with Senegal, through an unfortunate banking problem.  French West Africa was not a priority for  South Africa’s economic /foreign strategy.  With no other common interest – including political solidarity – the only way to gain investment from South Africa ( seen throughout the continent as a wealthy nation) was is charge its citizens who wished to travel there an entry fee. Are you sure you want to come here?

France a long-time  investment partner with Senegal has now become South Africa’s 3rd largest trading partner  – taking away much-needed investment from Senegal which depended on its former benefactor.  Though the country is now diversifying its investment portfolio to include China and North America ( Canada and the USA).

BUT MONEY CAN’T BUY YOU LOVE…

The lack of money was the sole – main – reason I came back  the second time. In fact it was not so much the a lack of money  per se,  but a technical – red tape – problem of not having access  to the  money I already had. I had a cash flow problem which made trying to do  business (anything) in West Africa nearly impossible.  The South African Embassy …. turned me away when I went to  seek help. All I had been my passport. ” I’m sorry we can’t help you, we don’t make phone calls for people here, we cannot assist you with that” said the woman behind the glass  panel.   It slowly began to sink in, that if they could treat their own citizens like this, what about other Africans? I was persona non-grata. My South African friends had long turned their phones off. Numerous calls through banks to South Africa, brought no joy, they could not assist me with a small technical problem. ” You have to come into our offices….go to your nearest branch”. I am in Senegal West Africa – I repeated like a crazy woman for nearly two months only to be met with ” where is that? just go to your nearest branch.” There is no Standard Bank Branch in Senegal.

AT LEAST WE ARE STILL FRIENDS…

My Senegalese Brother’s and Sister’s held my hands in support, paid for my rent, bought me food, airtime and provided me with what they could to help me survive at great personal cost.  They remained hopeful, but the stress was tearing me apart and I didn’t want to see them suffer like that for me. So I decided to swallow my pride and concede defeat. Go back home to my nearest Standard Bank Branch.  In all my life I have never experienced love like I found lived and experienced in Senegal. Everyone from street trader to Bifal, contributed with a cup of coffee here, bus fare there,  to help me  survive on a daily basis. They loved and accepted me without any questions, loved me through thick and thin, and never turned me away even when they had all the power, ability and reason to. I learnt a powerful lesson about myself, my birth country in Senegal, that Power and Love Equals Peace. It was not Senegal or the Senegalese that let me down. It was my own country. South Africa that didn’t care or seem to care an inch about my well-being. I have thought things through and looked at my story from all possible angles, everything I did wrong, all my mistakes and all the subsequent events that followed from that and I always reach the same conclusion.  I guess hadn’t had the time to realize just how much that incident hurt me.I have been going through the motions of living ever since.

POWER + LOVE = PEACE

I love Senegal with all my heart. This land of the  Baobab, the Lion, of Milk and honey. This  the country made me more of who I was, and showed me my all weakness and  all my strengths and loved me despite  of what I could or could not offer.  With all my imperfections: they told me: you are strong, we believe in you, you can make it.  I honestly cannot think of anywhere else I’d rather be. I never knew love like this before.  No money in the world can ever replace the  life this place breathed into my lungs into my very being.

To quote French Writer and philosopher Anais Nin who once said :“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”

Three years ago I threw my dreams into space like a kite, and found all of the above in  Senegal.

“I do”.  Now and forever. You will always have a special place in my heart. Thank You for the love  and all the  hard lessons.

My sister was absolutely right!. I am stronger and wiser because of you.

Peace.

Saturday Night live – Jozi Style

What the picture may have looked like on a Taxi to Cresta

Bree, Johannesburg South Africa:  The Taxi Marshall, acts as a bus conductor, except he is doing it at a taxi rank.  He peek’s into the taxi bound for Cresta, ensuring that all the 16 seats in the minibus taxi have been occupied. A woman sits in the second row from the front, holding a child. The seat next to her is empty.

“Is that child, under three-years of age” He asks the woman holding the little boy comfortably on her lap.

“He’s three” The mother replies  hesitantly as if considering in hindsight what the right answer would have been.

“Well then, let him sit on the seat” He says closing the door loudly.

“No but it’s fine, someone can take this seat, someone can sit here” She repeats her voice almost desperate.

” No Sisi, sisi, I  asked you how old is the child, is the child under three years?”  The taxi marshall asks  again.

“He’s three, I told you already that he is three” she says argumentatively. The taxi driver comes in and asks again how old the child is after having noticed that the taxi door had been closed but there was still an empty seat in the front row. It’s not ready to move yet, the taxi must be full before it leaves the rank. All 16 seats must have passengers, sometimes a 17th person can be squeezed in just – nje.

The taxi could be well on its way to Cresta now.  It is already seven o’clock at night, on a month-end Saturday in Johannesburg. Many of the passengers had places to go, people to see,  not to mention having to walk for however long at night to their places of residence. Minibus taxi’s don’t drop passengers at their front gate. Passengers in this taxi were already not so keen on a protracted waiting period while the woman makes an  argument no one seems to understand.

” Sisi, put the child on the seat, it’s not me, it’s the  government” He says banging the door once again. Then he opens it again as if pleading with her “the insurance is not going to pay for your child if something happens and it was found that you were holding him”

His last statement almost pours petrol into a fire already burning invisibly inside this woman. She seethed.

” Don’t you tell me about government insurance! We have been involved in so many taxi accidents, I have yet to see  insurance! don’t tell me about government insurance, government insurance where? Kuphi? Where did you ever see government insurance for  Taxi’s! Nxaaa!”

Terse conversation begins to bubble up in the taxi. Other passengers don’t understand why this woman is  being so difficult. “What does she want, she says the kid is three, so she much pay, if she said the kid is two and a half we could be going now” They mutter to each other.

Finally the driver comes and settles the dispute. “Mama, you said the kid is three, so he must sit on the next seat”

The woman dumps her child on the seat next to her, which then means the taxi can get going.

This eases up the air in the taxi, passengers are now preoccupied with their wallets and getting the right fare and change to the driver. The hum of the traffic barely subdues whatever conversation was going on in front.

“You must remember you taxi drivers, that your money comes from people, we pay for taxi’s you can’t treat us like this so badly, your business depends on us. We are the ones who pay for these taxis’, telling me about government insurance!” Hmmph.  It is the woman with the child again. She still hasn’t stopped.

Her voice disappears , four – three – three. Passengers collect their taxi fare.

Then a few minutes later the taxi driver says ” No no no,  Sisi, I don’t want imali yezinyembezi, imali oyikhalela kanga” He continues ” Why are you crying over this money, I asked  you if the child is under three years of age and  you said he’s three. Now you are crying when you have to pay, no’   He says swerving the taxi to a stop by the curb. You can take another taxi if you like take your money.” He says ” I don’t want money that’s been cried over  like this”

The Woman Screams. “How dare you!  you can’t take me from Bree and come and dump me here in the middle of no-where! take me back to Bree if you want. But you are not leaving me here! I am not getting out!”

The woman is now very angry, it is clear that the conversation between her and the driver continued while the passengers were counting their cents and now it seems it has escalated to such a degree that they might have to go back to the rank and drop this woman off. It’s a conundrum. It’s now up to the driver to decide if he is going back to Bree or if he’s going to take this women’s “tear” money and proceed further.

The taxi is quiet now.

“It’s just because you started talking about me being Zimbabwean! Kungenaphi lokho ukuthi ngiyiZimbabwean? What does it have to do with anything?!” She launches into a long monologue that swallows  the taxi driver’s attempts at an explanation.  The taxi is moving ahead, and you can almost hear the collective sigh in the taxi. The taxi driver took the Woman’s tear money. But she is not satisfied.

” Why do you say you, you Zimbabweans?!” Did I ask you about being South African? where does my nationality come in?Hhe? We are all the same maaan, we all Africans ! What makes you better than me, you, you a South African?  You black like me, there’s not difference between you and me, you driving a taxi like this at night you are no better than me, do you call this a life?”

Her voice is now the only music playing in the taxi.

” what do you have, a South African, you are black like me, we are both african,  the sun burns us the same here, we are all struggling all poor. what do you guys know? saying I’m Zimbabean, Zimbabwean?  where does being  Zimbabwean come in? huh? You South African’s you must just know that we are all Africans here, no one is better than the other… Johannesburg is a city for everyone, you don’t own Johannesburg, Johannesburg is not yours!’

Phone rings.”Hello” On male passenger answers “yes, I’m in a taxi” I call,I call, I call, but no one come, no one pick”

“are you still in town” His conversation breaks the monotony of the Woman’s speech. “well I call I call, no one pick, no one pick eh?”

The back seat giggles at the mans; fruitless journey, or accent it’s not clear.

“Hello?! Hello?! I’m coming, I am in a taxi to Cresta, Huh? I’m in taxi to Cresta wait for me” Another passenger a woman this time takes a call and begins telling the person on the other end of the line over and over again that she is currently on a taxi to Cresta.

” What do you South African’s know huh?! What do you know?! ” The Woman’s voice has found its place once again, at the top of the passenger’s heads. ” What do you know huh? You South Africans….. all you know is killing, just killing each other  that’s all you know, you are no better, we are all suffering here  all suffering”

Excuse me, a young woman interjects, ” the lady at the back says I must  give you this” she says handing the woman a R20 ( +- 2 USD) rand note.

“Na I’m fine” the woman says to more silence in the taxi.

Muttering begins again ” this lady just gave that woman 10 rands for the seat but she doesn’t want it” ” Oh she’s turning back money” “Oh Sisi, yehlisa umoya, calm down” ” Oh nami, I wanted to give her the money too,  shoo, she doesn’t even want the money”  The muttering continues, no one dared speak any louder in case the woman heard their comments and decided to turn her attention on them instead of the taxi-driver.

“You know I was fine. It’s  just that I was fine with the seat and everything until you said you Zimbabweans, You Zimbabweans for what?!  She had started again.

” We are all in the same boat here, we are all suffering, everybody is counting pennies, counting their money, that’s why we’re in a taxi, all of us… we are all in this taxi right now because we are suffering, no one is better…..”

A phone rings. “Hello” a man sitting  in front of the taxi answers his phone.

“excuse me can you please call me after ten minutes?  Yes, call me after ten minutes, There’s a problem in the taxi” he told whoever who was listening to him on the other end of the line  with such seriousness.

Silence

The the entire taxi shook with laughter.

Even the Woman was laughing and was even able to  articulate  that fact between giggles.

“We are all laughing in the taxi now,” she said her shoulders shaking.

Ends.

————————————————————————————————

PS: When I got out of the taxi,  I learnt one of the most important lessons in life. When first  got into the taxi I sat next to the Woman with the child. I moved to the back because I wanted to be more comfortable. While sitting next to  her I overheard her talking to her son saying we won’t have anything to eat tonight. But I wasn’t sure if she said that because they genuinely didn’t have money for food or  because they’ll arrive too late to start eating when they get to where ever they were.  When the argument about the seat started, I immediately thought it must be a money  problem, that’s why I passed on the R20 to her as a gift. I know from experience that however small it could  go a long way when money is too tight to mention. Perhaps it was  her pride (which she is entitled to ) or just a matter of principle, but I learnt that sometimes money is not everything, and  people just want to be heard, they want to express themselves”  No money in the world can silence that need.

LOVE: Ts & Cs Apply

Harmony makes Love

I told  one of my very close  friends on Sunday that she must ” never” listen to other people when it comes to choosing her mate. I said this to her  like the Guru I sometimes think I am (after all this time I still haven’t learnt to never say never ).  Love, if you find that there is someone in this world you love, in secrete or in public,  love them and don’t let them go.   She looked at me with that ” Are you listening to yourself, I don’t know what you’re talking about look” and replied where does this come from? It’s a response I’ve heard so many times in my quest for love – so I was prepared.  Look at me, I said, you see that I am alone  now, and if you don’t want to be alone ( which she doesn’t, myself included) then don’t listen to other people just go for the one you love, that one that makes sense to you, the one that works. I have given up on so many people as you know, I allowed the world and circumstances to determine my love life, and well if you don’t want to be alone. Don’t do what I did.  She stared at me still with that you have gone crazy look in her eyes and then she asked;  but what if the one you love  doesn’t want to stay…?

It’s a common occurrence, in fact its way too common as far as I am concerned. The ones who are willing to stay are  numbered, 1 or 2.   I guess you’ll just have to accept that they want to move and you must move on too, continue on your own journey. Wish them well. I say, in my heart as I walked out the door.  It was truly a bizarrely uncomfortable conversation, because we have known each other and each others lovers for years and we are both at a point where we want a change in our lives – again. It was a real conversation, we aborted. It was uncomfortable for me because I realized  there are so  many people I have hurt with my love, whom I’ve left with no choice  but to leave in order to save themselves, and there’s also been others who have left me gasping for air after they knocked the air right out of my lungs. I’d say we’re even now. So where to from here….

In thinking about love ( which here specifically refers to love of the romantic kind)  I have found over and over again, despite my best intentions that:   Terms and Conditions do apply;

Money: Are you able to make and keep money. how much do you have and how much can we make together.

Sex:  How important is sexual intercourse for you on a scale of one to ten? Once a day, week, month, Never?

Status:  How would a merger with you benefit me, in my career, family life, business etc. Upward Mobility, Downward Mobility, No change?

Love:   How do you know when it is real?

Faith:  Do you believe what I believe? also known as religion.

Each of these five Ts and Cs take priority over time depending on where you are in your life  mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. So what makes for a  good merger?

I asked this question to a good friend I met a few months ago. He has just gotten married now for a second time, and he is in his  60’s.  I asked him what he learnt from his first marriage.  He said communication is important. We  need to talk.

My first wife was very insecure, never experienced love in her life, so she never fully opened up, so in the end it didn’t work out.  He told me as if he was describing a great mature wine.  The only person I think she truly loves is  our daughter, he concluded.  Talking is important  I am learning as  I go along or should I say communication is more more important than talking. We need to  let others know where we are and what we’re going through.

And now the second one? I ask. Feeling like a ten-year old again… ” well” he answered with a wry smile ” she saved my life, you see, can’t imagine life without her”  Is all he said.

So how should I choose? I asked him.  It’s not an exact science he said but you can:

1. Ignore the  looks

2.  They must be even-tempered, able to deal with you and your various emotions, moods swings etc.

3. They must not mind you being in the limelight.

Sounds easy enough one would think. Okay What about me I thought, what do I want.

1. Children? Money? Wealth? Knowledge? Fame?

After having been knocked down by love so many times,  I have drafted what I think is a simple list of my terms and conditions . If we can do this, the rest will be just a Breeze:

1. I must be able to laugh with you

2.  Work with you.

3. Play with you.

4.  Cry with you and my personal and final  favourite  is…

5. Dance with you.

I am an Artist.  A love Activist.   Which is the greatest equalizer in any relationship, which ever way you look at it.

Never thought I’d say this but in my love life

Terms and Conditions do  Apply.

What are yours…..?

Sowe-to?From here…