A place called home. Someone said home is where the heart is, and indeed that is true. That is however, not to say that all places we make a home capture our hearts. Luther Vandross (or is it Dionne Warwick) says “a house is not a home.” I enjoy going to these little taverns around Johannesburg for a beer and to unwind. They are non-descript, decrepit, rough and tough kind of places on the wrong side of town. The beer is cheap, the crowd violence-prone and owners armed even as cops drive up and down the street. The patrons are loud, the music in full blast and laughter and banter abound. Pool table is the game of choice and the music selection is as unpredictable as it is diverse. Generally happy is the atmosphere; drunks from all social and economic classes mixing together in a melting pot of African cultural backgrounds and languages from everywhere on the continent. Happy one minute; then a violent outbreak of a fight that is quelled by friends and associates pulling the opponents apart and talking sense to them. Sometimes there is blood, sometimes flying bottles hurled and knives drawn out. I have heard of lives lost from fights that either started or culminated in these places. It is rough. I bet you are wondering what lies at the heart of these scenes? It is a longing for home.
From its very beginning, Johannesburg is a city of dreams. We all come here in search of our part of the gold. From everywhere around South Africa, SADC region and Africa. People come here looking for a better life than what they could hope for back home. In the current economy, this dream is quickly crushed by the reality of living in a congested, expensive and economically declined city long past its glory years. A city in a corruption riddled 3rd world country where the color of your skin determines your access to opportunities in a tightly contested market itself battling to grow revenue and profits. A city where those without powerful connections stand little to no chance of finding their part of the fold and living happily ever after.
With months and even years of disappointment, rejection, hunger and abuse; the people become despondent and discouraged. They see no way out of the quagmire of poverty, unemployment and economic gloom. They go to these taverns more and more to keep out a living from gambling while drowning their sorrows. They gamble on pool, dice, cards and anything possible. They fight for every point; every cent matters. They will bleed or die for it; it is the only way to put food on the table and send money back home. They will kill for it, their family livelihood depends on it. Hence the blood and the hurtling bottles whizzing past you in the air. Hence the drawing of knives and twisted faces with the look of murder. All they want is a chance to send money home back to mama so the children can eat. They want to impress girlfriends and wives who require weaves, manicures and most of all; food on the table. They want to eat. Hunger is not good for a man; especially one who is far away from home and his people in a cold, lonely, big city. A hungry man is an angry man.
I go to these taverns because they remind me of a my rural beginnings back home. I see in these people the faces of those who raised and nurtured me. Uncles, aunts, cousins and neighbors. I know these people also came here to survive, but the city has reduced them to a life below the breadline and on the outskirts of hope. They have given up their homes for a city that has now given up on them. A city that has rejected them to a point where they can’t afford to go back home anymore. They miss the place where they left their gentle, beautiful hearts full of dreams. Hearts now hardened and determined to just survive one more day. Every day…they miss a place called home where the food is scarce but the love is filling. Home, a place distantly etched on their memory and now unattainable. They come here, they gamble and drink. They risk their lives in the hope one day they will make it back home. Home, the place where their hearts can be pure again in the gleaming faces of loved ones happy to see them. Home, where the heart is.
So here is the thing….and we all know about it one way or another from living and having experienced life. Relationships are complex. Nothing is straightforward and nothing is permanent; things will shift and adjust and adapt as we go. That is normal, that is OK. What may not be ok is how you feel about or even how you see it. Your view is unfortunately a key ingredient, albeit a flawed measure of the reality that is life and constant change.
Boy meets girl, and both experience chemistry or whatever else that is the case at the time. They become inseparable, thinking life is one beautiful and long road ahead, confident that their love will be the magic trick that all the other stories are devoid of. Certain in the certainty that is their embrace and passion, sure of the thing that keeps them together and disappointed that their predecessors missed that hand of fate. The fairy tale starts and it progresses quite nicely, every detail of the dream romantically coming into being through the journey. The being accepted by the parents and siblings, the magical wedding, house and picket fence with two smiley picture perfect children. The flourishing careers and promotions, daily confirmed by kisses at the end of a stressful day. The fancy German sedans, the beautiful sweet border colliers running and jumping in the background.
Then one day, he shouts and loses it as she insists illogically on a new whim that is supposed make them happier. He thinks they can’t be happier, or it is all an illusion. They don’t need the Jeep, or the kitchen, or the fancy new house in the gated neighborhood. They need to safeguard their livelihood in a terrible economic climate amidst unstable political turbulence. She fails to see anything to worry about; he sees impending disaster and wants to preserve rather than go splendid. They disagree…they do not see eye to eye at all on anything. Anything at all. They are not on the same wavelength…she is in the fleeting faux high class money is all round ecstasy of the new middle class. He is in dry season without a tender to show in the last twelve months, having “borne” through it all along as he hoped the next one will work out…but all crumbled and died before his eyes. He is out of options, he has never been this low in his entire life. His friends and associates have been immigrating…declaring bankruptcy, moving back to the country, committing suicide and selling off assets. He can’t tell her the hard facts, she cannot settle for no-name brands and holidays to the local coast. They are in trouble, big trouble! Sadly, she is oblivious and suspicious…that curvaceous new secretary from the pits of hell must be the reason!
Saks Gid believes they bind human kind in a fabric so intricate and beautiful it can only be God.
Thread…the thinnest strip of material.
Sometimes your life hangs by it.
When you stare death in the face and dare to believe you will beat it.
When the thread is invisible they say “hoping against hope”
The naysayers lay in wait of your demise…their carnal mind says the thread will not hold.
You look at it yourself and know it’s up to Him.
So you hold on and let your faith see thick strong multi-woven rope.
You not only survive, you thrive.
Yes, they bind us intricately beautiful and powerfully strong.
Threads are to life as the breath is to our body,
They keep us faithful sometimes,
They keep us connected mostly,
But Threads keep us alive more than any other thing they do.
Today, as I hang by a thread and despair about tomorrow,
Even as I missed an opportunity to let the thread connect me to a loved one,
Yes, even as I don’t see the thick dependable rope,
I know I am hanging on His thread and I am secure.
I am thriving forward on a thread,
Because His thread binds me to Himself,
I shall live to testify yet again.
Just as it has always been the case.
I am as strong as the thread He binds me with.
So I was feeling o’ryt for the past few days, My days were painted lovely blues and grays. Filled with the loveliness of life and living, Life was a thing of utter beauty and giving, Until today when I realized…work! I have enjoyed it for many a years, but no more! And so I fell acutely, terminally ill right away. I thought this would be the end, the last day! As the meds do their thing in me, I sit and wonder how it would be, To spend all my days writing at leisure Surrounded by peace and a keyboarding pleasure And so I painfully took to the keyboard, Gingerly stretching my fingures into life, Happy to write a short verse randomly. And quietly, guiltily devour this moment. Writing because I can and it heals my soul Writing because I want to feel whole. And maybe that way I complete the hole in my soul.
1st published 30 April 2021
We have run out of both patience and interest in you political manipulations of the South African situation.We are not in denial as you are, just totally disillusioned and seeking a change that will refresh our beloved country.You don’t seem to have the answers at this point in time and that’s ok. You have chosen corruption and hooliganism over the country, we see that.
Just stop blackmailing people and go away to restrategize at a bootcamp. You need to think about your own future too, the current situation is a grave getting deeper for the party. Failing to do this sooner than later will lead to dire consequences for a whole nation.We are hungry, tired and worried about our future.We need the vaccine and solutions to unemployment.We need education, jobs, health care, public service and some rest.We need you to put us before your stomachs and pockets.We deserve your respect even if it’s veiled or faked. We have brains, we are smart beyond the liberation rhetoric. We can’t live under liberation credentials 28 years after liberation was attained.We gave you a chance to make mistakes and learn, but it seems you have only learned how to trick us and then use our patience as a currency called “the black vote”…one that is permanent and guaranteed in spite of your blatant and rampant greedy aspirations above a people too long in waiting…for a better day…a job… opportunities… economic freedom…just a basic right to live and earn a living.You can’t deliver that after a whole lifetime.How and why must I believe it will ever come…we don’t live on hope to defuse hunger under a selfish regime.We live on food, water, jobs, education, opportunities etc. We are a people with dreams, brains and ambition.We deserve better from you…the same better you reserve for you own children and comrades exclusively through irregularly awarded tenders, nepotism and outright corruption grandly exhibited by your Louis Vittons, Rolexes and other prized possessions. Obscenely expensive possessions worn, driven and displayed by the children of the well-connected that an average citizen can only dream of. You have left us out in the cold brutally and heartlessly, only coming to us with blankets and food parcels during voting/electioneering campaigns. We dispise you…you are a lover that is retained only because nobody else wants us. We haven’t a choice and you know it.. you abuse our lack of suitable suitors. Yet we will not hang around waiting for your call forever. I reckon you are helping us to try other lovers and unleash our inner political whore?
A break from politicians’ mudslinging and corrupt intents will be most welcome, thank you.We realise you no longer care, we want you to know we care about the country and its future.We hope you remember the struggle and realise how far you have drifted from those lofty heights. We want a better future for our children. In South Africa.
We are your people.We are the tired, hard working, poor people, distressed and desperate people you lie to all the time.We need rest and a decent life. We need you to put us first. If you don’t, our inner whore will shock you out of the Union building.
First published 29 April 2018 on Facebook
SOWETO. A place called home.A place that roots you right down and ties you to the history of this country.
SOWETO…where our blood flowed like a raging river. Our hearts remained steadfast and purpose was fulfilled; yet quickly pulled down by greed.
SOWETO… our lives were poured out like filthy water down a municipal drain. Our tears flowed down our brown cheeks while the world looked on.
SOWETO… our people hunted down like wild animals. Shot down ruthlessly like flies sprayed with Doom.Jailed without reason and electrocuted so they could confess to crimes imagined by the enemy.
SOWETO… Oh, how I hate you…even as I adore you more than I could ever express.
How I embrace you even as the pain spits in your face.
The pain of a history written in blood, cloaked in a glory starkly gloom.
SOWETO… Mama Winnie Mandela’s beloved home. Mama never left…mama stayed even when the years of plenty came. You chose SOWETO. You chose the unloved and unloveble.Mama chose SOWETO and her pain… She believed to the end. And Tata did leave you;and us. I guess his pain was much more? Is that even possible? Perhaps just lovers’ issues best left to the both of them.
But you chose us, mama.
SOWETO… The pain still flows like an angry unforgiving tirade. It engulfs us and washes us along with it. We try so hard to be strong and face it as you did. But Mama we are afraid… Really afraid.
SOWETO …Mama…the poverty is so relentless. Everyday it beats us down and wears us out mercilessly. We are hungry… Our weaves can’t hang on to our hair… It is so frail.
SOWETO… A place where we vote and reminisce about petrol bombs and necklaces and the songs of umzabalazo.
We vote and then protest for poor service delivery.
Mama, every weekend they come driving R2 million cars while drinking R15000 bottles of French champagne.
They say they want to inspire us when all we want is food and good education… And houses.
Mama… In SOWETO we are not free… Till when kodwa? Our kids lips are dry and eyes teary.
We do not want a sign… We need change today. Who is going to lead us now?Who can we trust when they hide in the suburbs and only come for our votes?
Ohhhh, mama! Ooh mama, dipelo tsa rona di tutetse. Ga re tsebe re ka etsang.
Sincede (help us) oh Lord…
Help us to get Africa back on track
Help us to help ourselves. We are your children.
A South African gem making waves on the markets. I trusting that even as the mineral gem does so, the gem that is our human potential will shine ever more on the world stage as Africans take over the world.
South Africa is now a democracy for almost three decades. One would think that education would be on the list of key transformational priorities. Not so…we continue to quitely perpetuate an Apartheid government agenda to date. Let me take you through some of the facts: For a start; we continue to not only Harbour but protect the most unequal education system in the world. How so, you ask? Schools in the townsgips and rural areas are falling apart…the level of learning is so degraded by issues of violence, dysfunctional services such as lack of water or electricity and working ablution facilities. The morale is so low and not condu ive to learning. Parents who can, as a reult; try to take their kids to better schools in town. Tgat where the inequality starts to become apparent as the battle to find a school gets dragged through language barriers and worse, if the child gets accepted. All good schools are in white areas and preserve their existence through either Afrikaans-only policies or exorbitant fees beyond regular black folks pocket reach…Nothing has changed for the black child in the education system since apartheid except on paper and in political terms. We continue to see less than 30% of black children making it to matric every 12 yeat cycle. Where is, and what happens to the lost 70%? The likelihood is that they are welfare and social cases immersed in drug abuse and criminality. They are the criminal elements lurking between the blurred lines of a rainbow nation. They remain terminally poor with little to no prospects as they are effectively unemployable due to their poor educational achievements. Most off all, they are the huge crime rate and statistics we experience or hear on the news daily. They are the criminal court backlog with literally no space in our prison facilities that is already buckling under pressure. They are the burden the police system is crumbling underneath even as they are accused of incompetence. If only we, as society cared beyond narrowly safe confines of racial, party and stereotypical lines…if only we truly cared about this country. If only we cared about the people, the future. We fail annually to educate them equally and with the same goal in mind, now they terrorize our high walled security estates in search of survival. I say it is an inevitable outcome that is not surprising at all, they come from a system we choose to leave as is even as we see it is terminally ailing. We would be better off working together to transform our social ills as opposed to pointing stinky figures all round. It is most unjust, unfair and completely unacceptable that formerly Afrikaans (white) schools have failed to transform and become more inclusive over three decades. It is even more unbelievable that government overlooks this issue. For black people who live in these areas, it is a travesty of justice that they have to take their children to schools miles away when the one next door is available and hiding behind a language policy. What about the right of this children to education that is not not miles away or exorbitantly priced in nearby private schools? Should we continue to accept that due to a language policy created by the apartheid government we remain oppressed and denied of a right to education? “. No self-identity of any group is worth its salt if it seeks to uncompromisingly set itself up against the rights of other identities. As a country, we have multiple identities that are viewed as one globally. South African culture is the sum total of all its diverse sub-cultures. To that end, the common identity must always prevail above its sub-segments, which are merely part of a collective. It is disgusting to elevate any one of them at the expense of basic human rights, especially in key focus areas like education. History will never forgive us all for failure to correct an obvious injustice to human rights. With a black ANC government in power, I fail to see why nothing has been done in the last 28 years to change this dynamic so that black children’s access to schools is not a struggle. We require equality and a playground that addresses past injustices in a meaningful and socially progressive manner. We have done way too little in the time we had in power. The ANC (ruling party) politicians have only plundered all state coffers that they can and did little else to benefit the average South African. Most if not all black governments have done the same, which is the most pitiful state of affairs. A deplorable and dispecable failure of leadership that must be denounced. 80% of black school children go to school hungry and the free meal they get fed is their only one for the day. They go to school barefoot and without adequate uniform or study material. They wake up from a place where abuse and neglect is fresh on their minds…not because blacks are beastly but because South Africans who can help have opted to do nothing. Politicians are too busy watching the cash kitty. Whites are busy finding reasons to award business to the white tenderer even though the black tenderer could be given a desperately needed chance. Blacks are to busy immersed in their desparation and hopelessness to no longer believe in a brighter future. We live in a royal mess. I am certain that corruption was there even in the apartheid government. People will always be greedy and take their chances. I mean, a lot of people today continue to claim that they didn’t realize apartheid was that bad! We know how today, you continue in the same vein and refuse to lift a figure to transform this country. We see daily your active suppression of black suppliers and industry, your passively aggressive stance on equality and transformation. We see you daily demanding to be treated as Baas or Madam just like the “good old days” when all blacks were mild and pliable to whiteness. Back to the point: up to 90% of black children in South Africa continue to go to under-resourced, ill-equipped schools while hungry and sick. They come from environments rought with poverty, abuse,violence and neglect. Do we accept it because apartheid made it normal and made us hardened to injustice? A sad manifestation of black power and white supremacy that leads either group into a world so removed from reality. Our active perpetuation of apartheid created systems and policies is baffling. We need to emancipate ourselves from the mental slavery as Bob Marley puts it. The high rates of violent crime and unemployment occur because we choose to perpetuate our mental slavery and shy away from the noble cause of mental emancipation. The utter denial that comes with denying the suffering in your midst for as long as it remains a few streets away from you. The entitlement that comes with blaming the other party until the rape, robbery and devastation becomes a crime scene at your doorstep that will forever change your pretentious, false state that comes with bloodied hands. Until it happens in your house…to your loved one…to you. Is it right to wait until then so you can then justifiably say “they” did it? “Them”…the ones you chose to do nothing to bring up into the economic activity and the educational system so that you can remain safe? So that you could guarantee your child’s future above theirs? So that you could retain your unfairly obtained privilege, I daresay. So that you can preserve your right to cheap (invariably) black labour in your house…No, it was not “them” that killed your dream…it was your choice to keep them away from your class and out of your league. Your choice of “us against them”. Your choice of maintaining the favorable side of your status quo. Your choice to hate, look down on and pity them with that fatalistic false sense that the ‘chosen ones’ tend to adopt. Whether you are black or white, your choice to do NOTHING always leads to something. Your choice to actively pursue divisive and racially charged stances. Choose well, choose right, choose yourself as a part of a whole. Choose us, choose South Africa.