We are not black diamonds and pearls.

Angles, angles, angles; it’s as important as the story to me, so here goes…. I’ve deliberated (pretty much with myself) extensively whether or not to write this post, and finely, I did.

In an act of defiance, as suggested in the title, I’m writing this as a rebuttal to those of us who feel the need to quantify our value by relating to economic substance. A pearl, or a diamond or even, as Bervely Knight suggests, “pure gold” does not quantify my worth.

Of course I could just end my seemly appearing to be “rant” right there, but let’s just be honest, you don’t have much of a clue as to what caused it.

Well my somewhat  angered, maybe frustrated, but not entirely unwarranted passion is derived from the recent highlighting of violence against women. If you’ve read some of my previous blogs you’d know that the issue of gender-based violence has been tabled here before; women are victims and sometimes perpetrators of acts of violent crimes in this and many other societies. This has to stop and we all need to play our part.

I refuse to label myself by an inanimate, soulless, devoid of any feelings commodity buried in the ground. By virtue of the fact that I am here, thinking and breathing, and moving towards a unique destiny; I am immeasurably far more superior, both qualitively and quantitively, to any amount of extraction beneath the earth’s surface. Even Prince ( the Artist formally known as Prince, back to Prince… it gets confusing at times) did not make such lofty claims – come on Queen you are worth more than diamonds and pearls! And while I am not in any way advocating for the removal of any blame from the often male perpetrators of violence against women, I am saying let’s be careful with the use of our words. Let us not continue to build on gender stereotypes, instead let’s debunk myths about us as women and challenge the status quo.

IMG_2815I am closing, but let me just say this, (this is the part I had the most anguish about) while this is an issue that affects all women, some appear to be more vulnerable than others. The old argument of a double prejudice rears its ugly head again; being a woman and black* is not a crime… I won’t say to much about this, but I will borrow from the words of MLK junior and let you decide: the most neglected person in America is the black women. ** Some of the crimes against women of colour are on so many levels, to unpack them all here would take way too much time. We need to break the cycle, we are not commodities on your black or white markets. We have souls and they cannot be bought.

 

via a strong black women, to strong black women all over the world, I love and respect you.

Fi

 

* I always use the word “black” very loosely, I don’t subscribe to racial social constructs but I do try and keep my writing easy to understand.

** Any one will be a victim as long as they feel disempowered and disenfranchised, but if you walk out of a negative situation and don’t allow yourself to be a statistic you will no longer be neglected because you will be the one giving the attention.

Consumer Debt

img_4323Np• Solange x Cranes in the sky

I walked past a store today with the most stunning display of scarves, and I probably wouldn’t have stopped if I didn’t see the sign saying R 99,00 and a middle aged lady stopping to peruse them. I commented to the queen on their exquisite nature, she didn’t stop once or even look up to respond. “She must be having a bad day, not your fault,” self whispered.

On returning back to my seat, after excusing myself to use the restroom I told N. “We have to go there so I can buy you this scarf!” “Okay,” she responded promptly. “I love gifts,” she said while she chuckled and smiled.

After lunch we walked down to where I pointed the scarves out. Feeling a little embarrassed though, I must admit, I hadn’t even looked at the name of the store. That feeling of shame quickly turned into pride when I realized that I was slowly and gracefully bowing out of the brand race.

Later the pride turned into a simile as I realized that more than anything, I just had impeccably good taste; and it had nothing to do with who saw me owning what and which label I acquired it from. I thought back to the first time I visited the famous Capetonian Victoria & Albert Waterfront Mall; I had to buy two scarves as that was the only thing I could afford, just to be able to say I got them at the V&A. I’ll never forget how those scarves were the cheapest thing I saw, at R 20 a pop! Getting into debt for consumerism isn’t a joke and so I’m super relieved to not be a slave to brandism like I used to before.

To end the story though, N. was super stoked about where we bought her gift from and I probably would have never even looked at the name if she didn’t pointed it out. Holidays are the worst time to go shopping, consumer debt calls you by all your names. All I’m saying watch yourself.

Love and peace,
Fi

Women’s writes

My last post relied quite heavily on innuendos and puns, so I was a bit skeptical about using a homophone in my title; but I did it anyway! I guess that’s the rebel in me (I know I would have mos def crossed the Berlin Wall. LOL)

Anyway back to business. I’m excited that 3 of the girls I mentor are female entrepreneurs or starting to think like business women. I love that they are so bold and courageous, enough to start something from nothing and I am extremely proud to say that they add to the mystical species of #girlbosses. This is a dying bread, in an era characterized by the rise of #blessees and overshadowed by the imfamous #abusedwoman. Seeing that we are in a period of 16 Days of Activisim Against Woman and Child Abuse, I will speak of the so-called “prostitute or Madona” theory. I first came access this school of thought in my Gender and the Law class, a sub-category of the Feminist theory. The idea that a woman was either a mother to children or a femme fatal seemed very extreme to me. Surely there was an in between? The idea here is that men, in a highly patriarchal society, either idolized and worship the idea of wholesome and submissive women or see them as a threat. What ensues would be better explained as the battle of the sexes, and many women would pay for this fight with their lives. Abuse is not limited to physical scares though, a subject worthy of mention is sexual exploitation in many industries.

On a lighter note, women in business are here to offer critical perspective. See it as a commentary on years of human trading, merchandising and consumerism. We are not here to offer a threat, but rather to pose a very real question: Can the world really afford to function without women in their economies, and not only as employees but as c-suit management and ground breaking pioneers? And if it can’t, what are the repercussions of a pay gap or gender tax on our nations?

I have to answer as an African, before I speak as anyone else; women are as much a part of our precious human resource as anyone one else – and yet I’ve seen circus animals treated better. We need to leverage off all our African renaissance leaders. My optimism was rendered a shocking blow just three weeks ago when Minister Blade Mzimande of the Cabinet of South Africa, announced the minimum wage to be a mere R 3 500. That average is a pittance and is largely based on male statistic; so this means women are making far less, and of that they still have to pay the monthly costs of feminine products (the punishment for not procreating I suppose) while male condoms are freely available in bathrooms. It would be an injustice if I didn’t mention that as many as 9 million girls miss out on up to 8 days of school a month due to a lack of sanitary towels.

So yes I am very excited about girl bosses, and I am blessed to be in the midst of a few of them. My dream is to make and see many more like them.

I’m just a woman who writes,
Fi

Eternal Optimist pick-up lines

I like it when money makes a difference, but doesn’t make you different… my favourite line from Drake.
The way love goes is not the way love came… the Common’s sense.
Like a moth to the flame, burned by the fire. My love is blind, can’t you see my desire… my favourite tune from Janette.
They say the darker the berry the sweeter the juice. I say the darker the skin, the deeper the roots… Tupac fruits.
Shame on me for changing, no no no, shame in you for stating the same…wanderful Aiko.
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot for love…Bon Jovi classics.
Imma look for my glory yeah, be back real soon… team Solo all day.
Wild is the wind… nothing is the matter with miss Simone.
You can be a master, don’t wait for luck… because life doesn’t always stick to The Script.
When you grow, you take everyone you love along… the Beys-nis (business).
You’ll never be happy until you learn to love yours… truths by Jermaine Cole.
They say our love won’t last forever, they could be wrong… banging track from L La Havas.

You’ve got the words to change the nation, but you’re bitting your tongue…Emeli Sandè encouraging us to share our version of events

….

People of Light

It’s been a minute since I last wrote, kept having concepts and ideas but never the time to sit and write.

So what’s been happening? I’ve been learning, growing and feeding my mind. I’ve encountered some truly amazing men and women and I’ve just been taking it all in. I’ve also been reading, I just finished my second book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Half of a Yellow Sun; it’s a riveting, can’t be put down kind of book. It’s a book that should be read by every African child, to remind them how ugly hate can be, how unfair to us the world can be and the importance of knowing the story of your people.

Having said that I’ve also had to silently internalize some sad moments. I had a friend in hospital, some personal loses and  gotten some less than favourable reports; but I’ve kept my hope card close to my heart and managed to keep going (because that’s what people of the Light do.)

img_2328
Morning light entering my bedroom

The ability of light to be refracted and broken into different colours is so amazing; in fact that is not the only cool thing you can do with light, light can be reflected and the universe continues to expand at the speed of light.

So so I guess a picture really is worth a thousand words… I’m still trying to figure out how that light broke up in pieces like that, and the green, I don’t even know where that came from.

Fi

Rueful – Reflections on Woman’s Month

N•P Nico & Vinz – Am I wrong

“I was walking one night, when I came across a woman.” The look on his face appeared to be quite somber. “I walked up to her and asked her where she was going.”

… I paused and thought for a moment. “OMG, I hope you didn’t harm the poor thing!” I thought.

…”But when I came close she became afraid, as if I was going to mug her. I just wanted to help her. It was late at night and I thought she might want an escort walking on this side of town. I wasn’t going to hurt her, just help her with her bags and things.” Again M. appeared to be addressing to the people in the room but his mind he seemed to be roaming the streets of Rose Town at night.

… I felt a wisp of ruefulness sweep over me. “How could I have thought this way? Yes M. did fit the profile of a brown-skinned tattooed mugger, but he had always been a perfect gentleman with me.” Later on I found out M. used to live a life of mugging and crime, I slightly felt better for my earlier thoughts, but not entirely.

******
The above story is true, and although it has a silly end it’s the backdrop for a major social issue. The vulnerability of women in our society.

Often times the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are partners, husbands and lovers, the very same people that should be protecting them.

Recently a group of four university students gate crashed a presidential address in Pretoria, South Africa, pertaining to the local government elections. President Zuma was upstaged by the silent protestors who wanted the nation to remember the president’s alleged rape charges. Whereas the president had been acquitted of all rape charges, the women insisted that as feminists it was their duty to revisit the matter that still plagued the victim to the very day.

I’m not sure whether the platform that these women used was the correct one to address such an issue, but I do know that I was very disappointed by the general ANC response, as well as that of the ANC Women’s League. They seemed to deal with the “conspirators” and bypass the real issue. I listened as the ANC spokesperson advised that it was simply an opposition party trying to discredit the ANC leadership, but on interview one of the young women said that no one had put them up to it. “We live in a society where women are discredited… Where we are not depicted as being capable of having our own thoughts… Why does there have to be a third force involved?” The agony in her tone almost pleading with the camera.

If you have a woman in your life, love her, heal her and protect her,

Fi

Expletive – Not like a curse, but more like the lalala in a song.

Sorry I’ve been too busy to write. I know I don’t owe anyone an apology but I have to account, even if it’s only to myself. I’ve been busy with studying and reading to better myself but something brought me out of hibernation.

I think I had a moment of magic, well I know I did; so hence my reappearance, which is soon to be a constant again. As much as I use this platform to share quite a lot of myself, there are still parts of my life I keep private. So about this magical moment… I won’t go into too much detail, but I will share just enough to get you thinking and hopefully keep you interested.

So by way of digression, my sister is getting married and like any big sister I’m super excited. That’s magical on its own, but back to what I was saying; I usually write in the past tense as I chronicle past events, but this is in the present tense ’cause it’s still forming in my mind. My idea isn’t finite yet, it’s still in fetus form but I really think I’m on to something! I’m going to generalize here, but I hope that you the catch the spirit of what I’m saying.
We sometimes get lost in the small things, small ideas and small people.* We reduce a mass problem affecting a neighbourhood, a city or a generation with our myopic view to our own circumstances. What I mean by that is we lose focus of the bigger picture, and start watering things down till it becomes our own micro-portrait. What brought the magic for me was lifting my eyes above my circumstances and peering over the horizon as it were.

There is magic inside you, in each and every single person. Why if it weren’t safely tucked away on the inside of us we wouldn’t enjoy the journey of self-discovery & coming into our own through self-realization. Ever get the feeling that what your doing today is a dress rehearsal for something great that’s still on its way? Have you ever felt like you were the main character in your own tale? Or try this one on for size. Have you ever felt limited by some or other unknown force or power? The simple answer is the power is wielded by you; your thoughts, words, actions and habits frame the reality of your life. A frame almost “guards” the dimensions of a picture. The smaller your frame, the smaller the picture you place in it will be. Everyday you wake up you choose to dabble in some forgiving, hate speech, violence or love, but you create. You make choices and when one course of action is followed, it’s often to the exclusion of another. You are a artist, a magician and boy do you create! Prolifically, not a moment is wasted. Sometimes it’s trouble and sometimes it’s peace. Every option is fair game until you make up your mind to, “Go with the tangerine shoes!,” because you love them. Because at this point the universe is truly responding to who you think you are and what you feel you are worthy of attracting. Unlike certain authors (whom I’ve never read) I don’t pin this down to emotions and the will, it’s really a matter of sowing and reaping. Oh gosh! What I’m really trying to say is use words, think thoughts and make decisions that will add value to your life like a good frame adds value to a picture; the quality of your life can only fall within the parameters of what you’ve framed it to be.

So no, no, no! The picture does not proceed the frame. Instead the frame was always there guiding the artist’s hand. What blank canvas has unlimited dimensions? None. The frame was there all along, intrinsic in the canvas’s DNA.

I’m going to need a bigger picture for the frame I have. Let’s make magic,
Fi. 😌

*Small people are people with a capacity for where you are, or where you have been, but not for the place where you are going.

Daughters of Sarah

I’m so excited a long term vision of mine has finally come to fruition.  A while ago I started thinking about the necessary discussions, the relevant discourse and the inter-generational talks that were not happening. One night I even dreamt about it, and now it’s finally here and I get to be a part of it.

Daughters of Sarah is an organisation, a girls society where we talk about all things pertaining to young women. From self-image and brand identity, to etiquette and career planing. We are a network of future leaders who pass the baton on from one generation to the next.

Our first meeting was a low tea event.

The girls did a lot of work on themselves.

The first activity was for the girls to:

  1. Stand against a chalkboard while the other girls wrote something about them which they couldn’t see
  2. then we took a picture and left them guessing as to what the opinion the others had of them was
  3. we engaged them as to what their thoughts were about their self image, the effect that both the environment and their own internal factors had on this
  4. then we let them read what the others had written and engaged them on what formulates ones reputation
  5. the point of this exercise was to show  that people’s opinions do not have to affect our self confidence and that we also have a responsibility with regard to what we put out to the world.

We giggled and had fun, but we touched on some very serious issues too. Daughters will become women and one day mothers who will be responsible for nurturing future sons and daughters, they need our support to become the best that they can be.

Here’s to big things coming our way and the 2016 DoS,

Fi

*if you’d like to be involved please email me or post a comment below

Love Days, Politics & Bruises

Dang! I hope this doesn’t bruise. I was having a *Love Day except that now I had just bumped my shin as I was about to get off the taxi. Part of the reason could have been that I was a little annoyed by the taxi driver who didn’t hear my stop, and drove a little further causing me to have to walk back a block. This was rectified through the comic relief provided by the mature gentleman sitting by the door who noted that I was, “still young enough to walk back.” He made me smile and before he closed the door he uttered, “Goodbye.” Which I requited and rubbed the throbbing shin before going on my way.

As I passed the throngs of people at Ghandi Square I noticed a large number of people in African National Congress (ANC) colours; people wearing everything from t-shirts to scarfs, to track suits. I wondered what this was all about before I proceeded to buy an ice-cream. This would be my temporary stop before I met up with K. on the project we were working on. I stood in a queue behind two girls, one of whom wore an ANC head wrap.

“I’ll have the Jo Jo ice-cream.” I told the waitress, I was surprised to see that ten bucks could go such a long way here. Outside I looked for a place to sit in the sun and spotted the same two queens. I sat down and pulled out my book, but I couldn’t help myself from asking them about their attire. “Oh this is for ANC Friday’s,” the queen with the braids and head wrap said. “It’s for visibility since we are going into elections.” I wondered if that’s what that elections had become about, visibility?

image

******
I am not politically affiliated to any party, so don’t get me wrong, what I am about to say is purely my opinion. But I wonder why anyone would vote for a political party, riot and burn down state property for a lack of service delivery, and then vote for the same political party and start the cycle all over again? This kind of thinking goes against logic but is not uncommon among poor South Africans, who seem to be the most hard done by the lack services they receive under the ANC government.

I remember speaking with my sister’s aunt who felt that as frustrated as she was with the ruling party, she would re-elect them into power albeit that she begrudgingly caste her vote. This made me want to understand the idealism behind this kind of thinking, and the sense of loyalism that people felt towards the ruling party.

Once in a blue moon you come across a book that is so relevant, it makes you want to stand at every street corner dishing out free copies. This was one of those books. I think that as Mamphela Ramphele rightfully points out in her book, Conversations with my Sons and Daughters, we as ordinary South Africans have been reduced to subjects and have not been empowered to act as citizens. Citizens understand the need for their participation in a democracy, while subjects are the passive recipients of the decrees of their ruler. And while yes we understand that we all have a political right to vote, we deny it of its full power and effect. Another point worthy of mention is the notion that our constitution makes the citizens sovereign and thus the government is accountable to us the voters. Citizens have a far greater role than the one we choose to play. I quote, “We need to shift the frame of reference from politics of fear and patronage, to assert ourselves as sovereigns and defend our constitutional democracy.” As sovereigns what future are we ensuring for our kids, what type of a democratic legacy do we leave if we re-elect people we have qualms about and don’t use voting and a robust parliament as the tools to hold the government accountable? Ramphele also points out that in Africa very few have been able to make the transition from a liberation movement back in the day into a modern political party. Perhaps we are in denial as a country that liberation skills are a far cry from being able to harness South Africa’s natural and human resource to establish sustainable prosperity for its people.

******

I got home that evening and changed into my warm pink pyjamas. Don’t look, don’t look. Okay I have to look. I had a green mark on my right shin despite all my willing against it. I sighed and climbed into bed to finished the rest of my book.

As I concluded it become apparent that ours was an unfinished agenda, and that it was our responsibility to move our country beyond its political emancipation into a more citizen-lead democratic dispensation, but also into a thriving nation on a socio-economic level too. Despite having attained political freedom, South Africa still wrestled with citizens who didn’t quite understand their new role, as well as some leaders who lacked the acumen to discern that leadership was less about filling their own pockets and more about the progression of the country as a whole. Possibly some leaders might even be under the erroneous assumption that the citizens owed them for their freedom and it’d become a war of visibility for their votes, forgetting that even liberation was a collaborative effort from both citizens and the liberation movements.

The intended outcome of my book was that we have discussions around the concept of “walking together” as a people alongside our government, for us not to run ahead but also not to follow sheepishly behind. After reading it I felt better empowered to do that. I feel galvanized into action by this resource but I am also aware of the amount of spiritual discernment needed and healing that must take place before we can move forward as a nation.

I really need to lay off these heavy topics for a while, but I pray like Daniel in the lions den You catch me,
Fi

*Love days are those days when you just seem to receive love from all directions: texts, calls, hugs, kisses and random smiles. It’s God’s way of giving you a hug

The Queen Dialogues: I see you!

NP Adele•Water under the bridge

In one of our indigenous African languages, isiZulu, they greet one another with a positive affirmation of sawubona. Which can be translated as “I see you”, in acknowledgment that you are another human being. The significance of this is phenomenal if you think about it; should we as humans not in fact see and indeed feel one another’s presence as we go about our daily lives and our paths collide?

So this post is to the Queens that I personally have seen and felt over the past week.

******

“Thabi help me look for something.” I said to my seemingly weary assistant/ sister’s dismay.

“What exactly are you looking for?” “Something for my hair.” I responded before I could turn around and see where the beautiful full voice came from.

“Then you should try this…” My eyes followed as a beautiful young woman with skin the colour of desert sand moved from behind me towards the bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Her beautiful black Afro seemed to nod in agreement as she shared her hair care regiment with me right there at the Clicks store. Her caucasian mother waited patiently as her daughter completed this demonstration of products, all the while with a big reassuring smile; it appeared that they were on their own shopping mission too.

“Phew, thanks girl,” I said appreciatively. We Afro textured girls need to look out for one another. She must have perceived my mental telepathy, smiled and chimed, “I know,” before walking away.

I couldn’t help but feel so thankful that people in Africa were so friendly, not to mention that she making up for the smile now on Thabi’s face.

******
“Is this book in Afrikaans? I can’t read Afrikaans.”
I took the book from the Mohogany skinned girl beside me at the CNA store and read the title out aloud.
“Yep, this book is definitely in Afrikaans girl.” We laughed as she put it right back.
“You should learn a little.” I said. She laughed again at her own hopelessness. “Where would I begin, even at school I never did well in Afrikaans.” “Begin with watching a little 7de Laan.” I encouraged and chuckled as I began to walk away.

******
M. is one of the nicest and prettiest people I have ever seen, with her well looked after Carmel skin. She works at the Clinque counter for a large department store.

“So I’m looking for some makeup…” I trailed off hoping that she would interject with a suggestion even though I already knew what I wanted. Purchasing makeup had always been a little awkward for me; for some reason the ladies at these counters always seemed to have an air of judgement for the products I wanted, and would always try sell me alternatives. I put this down to my being a novice or maybe that was just my awkward experience.

I moved a bit closer and smiled hoping that she’d recognize my face and spare me another full consultation on the skin care regimen that I should be following but lacked to grasp the necessity of. (Note to reader: I really am a minimalist at heart, but now that I’m thirty I appreciate the need for a good foundation and beauty regimen to carry you into your golden years.) She frowned thoughtfully and then unwrinkled her face as she seemed to place me in her mind.

I ended up being her muse as she gave me a complete face beat, and I heard about her elaborate face routine. “I wash my face 3 times; first I remove the make up with a makeup remover or wet wipes when I’m tired, then I wash it in the bath and then I do a 3 step routine. And I go for monthly facials.”

“So what do you do?” We then began chatting about her legal problems as I explained my profession. “We’Il do coffee on your day off and I can draft that contract for you.” I walked out of the store looking rather did, with a new client but no make up unfortunately. LOL well that’s not entirely true, we just both agreed that I look better without it.

******
I clapped my hands and motioned that she should throw the ball to me. Her little faced mused over the idea for a second and then she requited my gesture.

Throwing and catching a ball is easy, but try and do it while jumping up
and
down
on a trampoline. I’ve never been one to shy away from physical exercise but Bounce got me sweating and looking like a hot mess. T. and K. threw the ball to each other, while me and my new found friend did the same.

After some time fatigue started to set in; we each took our turn as we began sitting down from exhaustion still passing the ball between us. First my new friend, then T., then K. and then finally me.

“So what’s your name angel?” I asked the beautiful little girl who’d in a matter of minutes stolen my heart with her dark brown hair and gorgeous big brown eyes. “Becky, but my full name is Rebecca.” All the while her feisty little spirit shinning through.
“You have really beautiful eyes, you now that.” “And lashes!” She was very quick to add. This sent T., K. and myself into quite a chuckle. Here was a little ball with such a spunk.

Driving home I remembered the line from a song, “You better call Becky with the good hair.” I’d met my own Beaky with the good hair and fell in love. I’m a nurturer, I go around adopting everyone’s little babies that’s what I do.

Queens recognise Queens, all day every day!

Fi