SUPPOSE GOD IS BLACK… and WOMAN?

God as A black Woman
God as A black Woman

I had such a laugh this morning thinking about this so I thought I should share it with you while it is still fresh on my mind. By the way the words  Suppose God is  Black  are not mine. They were actually the words of  President John F. Kennedy: the 35th president of the United States of America in office from 1961 to 1963 when he was assassinated. I found this out at the Rise and Fall of Apartheid :Photography and the Bureaucracy of Every day Life. A photographic exhibition open at Museum Africa in  Johannesburg South Africa. JFK said those words Suppose God is Black in reference to Apartheid Rule in South Africa during his visit in June 1966. No wonder. I got to thinking about this in more detail as I walked through walls and walls of black bodies fervently  seeking emancipation and freedom. I went to the museum to see the exhibition knowing that it is mostly unpleasant, many of the images on exhibit I had seen numerous times before, however I was determined to come out of it stronger than I was when I First went in. And Suppose God is Black was the first thing I came across : Thank you JFK.

BUT SUPPOSE GOD IS A BLACK WOMAN?

This thought arose as I studied the image (see above) of a white woman walking by the beach front, causally, while her black dog trailed  behind her. A few feet behind the white woman and the dog is  a black woman – her maid. The Dog was doing what dogs do…shitting all over the place and the black maid was doing what black maids do, picking up the shit the dog had left behind.  Now you may wonder how this is a) Funny or  b) Godly.  But the more I thought about it the more it made sense. First can you think of one single person who has cleaned-up your shit no matter how badly it stunk, wiped your puke, cleaned your nose, and took care of all your disgusting (let’s be honest) bodily functions and still thought you are the most amazing, beautiful, precious thing on earth?. Someone who  loved you so much they could eat you, cuddle you and will do anything to protect you, love you and make sure you’re happy after all of that? Yes you thought right it is your mother.  (I use this term inclusively of all kinds of mother(s)/mothering yes, men/fathers who do this are included too) But mostly it’s mother’s who do all the dirty work, the unpleasant stuff. So take this analogy and think about it in the South African context (or any  the colonial context for that matter). Who does all the dirty work?  Who cleans up after you, makes sure your dog’s shit is picked up, your house is clean, you have clean clothes, your children are well raised and taken care of? A black Woman. If you’re not doing it yourself, a black woman is doing it for you. So still, how does that make a black woman God you ask?  Don’t white women do this too?  Sure white women do, do that too… but if  I were looking for answers I’d go to the person who looks after everybody including white women. That person in my context is a black woman.

Still confused? okay let me simplify it. Though not all of us are religious, many of us believe that there is something or someone greater than all of us and we give that person or thing the name God, an omnipresent powerful force beyond our human understanding.  Of course if you’re an atheist then this would not apply to you. But enough people in the world believe that there is a God somewhere out there or inside you and everywhere.

So when, we, those who believe in the God figure pray. What are we doing most of the time? Dictating tasks /orders we would like him to do for us in that day. The list is endless…

please make him give me the promotion

give me some money from petty cash

i know i was late but can you make them understand why

buy me that dress

do you love me?

okay please get me that car

make Thomas love me

clean my house

cook for me

make my children happy

buy me a new cellphone

make me famous

make me rich

oh you forgot i asked you for a man ten years ago

where is he…

why aren’t you listening to me?

why did you give her that job and not me?

she’s evil, drinks and sleeps around

I am good.

I pray everyday

why aren’t you doing what i want?

i’m right and he is wrong

so I’ll be doing you a favour if I kill him

talk to me

why are you so quiet..

please don’t make it rain tomorrow!

i love you

please make all my dreams come true.

amen!

Well… think about it. When you “pray” to God, what do you normally want him/her to do? Solve your problems. You pray to God because things aren’t going so well, you can’t do it, can’t cope, not bothered whatever the case may be –  but you need stuff to get fixed. Bottom line.

However real or imaginary this God figure is, we understand at the most basic level that he/she is there for us: at our service so to speak. They are there to serve us, make us happy, get us everything we want and could ever dream of. So if we treat God like this in our secret place, in our closed hearts, how much so another human being?  So we treat maids in the same way, but with even more disdain because we think they are worth- less. So it is with the black woman/maid. She must be a miracle worker, solve all our problems make our lives easier, for free or if we insist at a nominal fee. But even then we’re free to choose how much we give her, because clearly God needs or wants for nothing.

So ergo my theory on why a black woman,  can be God. Because whether we smile at him and speak to her in scorn, we’re asking both of them for the same thing, we want God and the Black Woman, to do something, for our benefit  and our benefit only most of the time. The answer to all our daily ” can’t deal with this – don’t know what to do with this ” messy problems. We need them to intervene in our lives and make everything okay. Fix it! There’s nothing right or wrong about our intentions but whether we pray fervently at church on our knees, or standing in the kitchen barking orders for someone to do something for us, we are always in need of something or someone, if we think God won’t  do it,  at least I can tell a black woman to do it by whatever means necessary whether they want to do it or not, we think. I pay you to do it, so you must do or I’ll kill you.

At least God has a break. Black women on the other hand are constantly listening to silent and loud prayers from everyone. They can make your home look like paradise in a second, but you still don’t think they are good enough for you. You treat your Dog better than the Black woman.

But the good thing about a black woman is, even though she is as powerful as God, even though she can abuse that power which you give her thinking you’re doing her favour. She chooses again and again, not to. She unlike many of us knows who God is.  Which makes her the closest thing to unconditional love you can ever experience. She doesn’t like “we” all do, think that it is her who makes things happen by the strength of her own might.  She knows where her power comes from. She loves and respects herself and everyone, regardless of how they treat her. She is not without mistakes,  weaknesses in character, her vulnerability is the source of her her strength a strength which comes from a sacred place, a sacred union with source, our creator far outweighs her deficiencies.

She Loves  more than life itself. No matter how unpleasant or belittling an experience can be. She knows where her worth comes from, and it’s not in your words, or pitiful actions or the money you pay her. She knows who God is, that’s why she can and always does, serve you regardless of what you say or do to make her less than who she really is. Doesn’t the Sun?  It shines for all of us everyday, whether we deserve it or not.  The Sun does not depend on our goodness or evilness to shine. It shines everyday.  Regardless. Shine Black Woman.

Advertisements

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.