May 21, 2013 § 1 Comment
Excerpt from my book, In My Arrogant Opinion
English is a difficult language with excellent public relations. If you speak English, and have the added bonus of speaking it well with a great accent, you are suddenly propelled into the class of the intelligent. You are not even required to have achieved anything.
I’m not the world’s most articulate person. I hate my voice. I hate hearing it, which seems like a great contradiction considering how often I am caught speaking. If talking were like a speeding fine, I’d have many of those fines because I talk whenever there is an opportunity to do so, particularly about subjects I am interested in.
In the apartheid years, my mother sent me to a Catholic boarding school in the small town of Qumbu in the Transkei. The name of the school was Little Flower Junior Secondary School and it went from Sub A to Standard 7. Little Flower J.S.S. You know you went to a hood school when your school’s name ends with a J.S.S. – and it didn’t have a school song, even though it was probably the most prestigious school in the Transkei.
All children were forbidden from speaking Xhosa or any language other than English. When you arrived at the school for the first time, you were given leeway to include Xhosa in your English until month three. After that you were expected to have mastered the English language. Most of us had never spoken a word of English prior to when we were accepted into the school. Myself included.
The principal of the school was an imperious nun with a slightly short right leg. Her right shoe always had a thicker sole. Her name was Sister Daniel and she was Austrian. She really enforced the use of English in the school despite her Austrian background.
One day, my Standard 3 teacher was off sick. As a result, Standards 2 and 3 had to be combined. We were instructed to remain silent for the remainder of the day. I said something to a friend who was sitting next to me. Then another thing. The teacher caught me whispering and she told me to ‘Shush’ with the authority of a feared teacher. I shut up. Immediately. Unfortunately, I have a very short attention span …
I said something else to my friend. She caught me again and summoned me and my innocent friend to her desk. Then she said, ‘Go to Sister Daniel’s office and tell her that you spoke in class!’ Now, it is true that I had spoken in class. But unfortunately, lunch was an hour away. Let me explain why this was unfortunate. Don’t worry; there is a point to this story.
If you were caught shouting, speaking in class when you were not supposed to, or speaking Xhosa, it was tickets. A piece of brown masking tape would be put on your mouth for three hours. If your three hours fell between meal times, sorry for you, no eating. We ate meat three times a week. And the day the teacher told me to go to the principal’s office to get my mouth decorated with masking tape was one of those meat days. I was not about to go down like that. I must have been 11 at the time. I wanted my meat and I was not about to miss it just because I had spoken in class when I wasn’t supposed to. I guess one could say that there was a thin line between abuse and discipline then.
My friend was the first one to walk out the class. I was very close to the door when I turned back to the teacher and said, ‘Sorry Miss.’ I took one step closer to her desk. She carried on looking at her notes or marking or doing whatever it is that teachers do when they are not teaching. I inched another step closer and said, ‘Sorry Miss’. Each time she ignored me but I carried on until I was very close to her table. She got up wielding a stick, which encouraged me to get out of the class with great speed.
A minute later, I stepped back into the class without having gone to the principal’s office and said again, ‘Sorry Miss.’ This time, she laughed and said, ‘That’s very manly of you.’ She let me back in the class. Sometimes persistence pays off because I didn’t get any masking tape and I enjoyed my lunch. Yellow samp, cabbage and a boiled chicken wing. It had no flavour, but it was the tasting meat I ever had because I was this close to not having it.
My story is not as tragic as that of Thobile. Thobile was a big, burly, dark young boy. He had the strength of a bull and no one ever messed with him. We had been at Little Flower boarding school for eight months at the time. Unfortunately for Thobile, it took him a really long time for him to learn to speak in English.
One day Thobile needed to sharpen his pencil. We were in Standard 2 and were only allowed to use pencils when writing. Cursive was a big deal back then. Another boy was already standing over the dustbin sharpening his pencil. He was the smallest boy in the class and constantly seeking the teacher’s approval. I saw him hand a sharpener to Thobile and then approach the teacher, Mrs Landu.
‘Thobile just spoke Xhosa, Miss,’ he whispered to Mrs Landu just loud enough for the rest of the class to hear, but faking discretion at the same time. Thirty ten-year-olds looked up from their books in horror. ‘He did what?’ We were all thinking it.
‘What did he say?’Mrs Landu asked.
‘He said, “Khawuthi umshini ndithishwele-shwele.”’ (‘Give me the sharpener so that I can just, quick, quick.’) Upon hearing this horror – a child speaking his mother tongue in class – Mrs Landu summoned Thobile to her desk and picked up her stick. Corporal punishment was very legal back then.
She made him lift his hand and began hitting him.
‘What did I say, Thobile?’ Mrs Landu asked as she struck him.
‘Did you say Miss! Did you say Miss!’ Thobile tried in his best English while screaming from the pain.
‘What did I say, Thobile?’ Mrs Landu asked him again as her stick repeatedly came down on his hand.
‘Did you say Miss! Did you say Miss!’ Thobile failed again to respond in appropriate English. He was struggling to say, ‘You said we shouldn’t speak Xhosa, Miss.’ His bad English still amused us even after eight months in the school, but we didn’t laugh out loud, of course. It was not his mother’s tongue. And I do know that it is ‘mother tongue’ in case you wanted to correct me. I know you blacks. Always correcting someone’s English. It’s for emphasis, dear reader.
Thobile was sent to the principal’s office. Masking tape was put over his mouth and he missed his lunch. We learned that it was bad to speak Xhosa. One’s mother tongue was inferior to English.
Thus we participated in the suppression of our languages from a very early age. No one objected to it and no one saw anything wrong with it. But today I feel for Thobile because I realise that he was being made to feel bad and somehow less than for speaking his language.
What makes learning English doubly tough, are the blacks. Yes. The blacks. The people of the melanin-advantaged sort, of which I am a member.
Why do I say such a thing? Well, for one thing, no one laughs harder at another black person who has just mispronounced an English word than black people. Perhaps the laugh is some sort of superiority complex that makes people feel a little bit better about themselves because they have mastered the master’s language, and so they mock the poor victims of George.
Don’t worry, I’ll explain who George is in case you are wondering – but he isn’t who you expect him to be – if you are a member of the melanin-disadvantaged persuasion, that is.
Funnily enough, no one laughs or mocks another black person who mispronounces a word in their indigenous African languages. There is no pointing, no laughing. Unless, of course, it is about the word ‘ukunyoba’. For some reason, this word takes people back to their schoolgoing days.
The word for bribe in Xhosa is ‘ukunyoba’. In Zulu, the very same word actually means, ‘hanky-panky’ or ‘sex’, if you prefer. Perhaps the two words are rather apt because when it comes to bribery, someone gets screwed in the end. But I digress.
There are many examples of us laughing at other black people for mispronouncing English words. Our most prominent example at the moment is Jacob Zuma. When he makes speeches, people will more often than not comment on his pronunciation rather than the contents of his speech. Words such as ‘management’ depart from his tongue and reach our ears over the airwaves sounding like ‘man-age-ment’. I never laugh at the president’s pronunciation, mainly because I mispronounce about 60% of English words. Although, to be honest, I can’t help laughing at how he reads. We all know how he reads. The following is inspired by the work of that South African fellow now in Hollywood, Trevor Noah.
Pretend that the following sentence comes from his mouth. It is. Very. Diffi-cult to. Follow the. Presi-dent’s. Speeches sometimes.
I, like the president, wasn’t born speaking English. Most black South Africans were not born speaking it either. So it is not, whatchamacallit? It is not our mother’s tongue. This language, which came to South Africa on a ship, has another name. Many black South Africans call it ‘George’, after King George of England. There is something deeply disturbing about how George has taken over the life of the ordinary black South African. In fact, it is not so much that English is here. It is the manner in which we are allowing it to obliterate the rest of the African languages. Particularly for the privileged agent blacks.
Who are the agent blacks? I count myself in this group. We are the ones who went to what were formerly Model C schools after the election of Nelson Mandela as the first democratic president of South Africa. These schools only offered English and Afrikaans, and some an African language, but the African languages were never given the same status as English or Afrikaans.
So we decided to study Afrikaans instead of our languages. It is no wonder then that some schools have decided to drop teaching Xhosa and Zulu even though Xhosa and Zulu are the two most spoken languages in the country. We can’t blame the white man for this one. We have to blame ourselves and our government for allowing it to happen. It is shameful. Can you imagine England deciding not to teach English anymore? We have shortchanged ourselves.
We need to save our languages. Mother tongue languages have to be compulsory in schools. We shouldn’t even be debating this.
May 10, 2013 § 1 Comment
Extract from my book, In My Arrogant Opinion
The very first sound I ever made was neither in Xhosa nor English; it was that universal wail all babies make. I cried, at least that’s what I imagine happened. Maybe I cried because I was naked and was feeling a little embarrassed. Or was it because I was aware of how small my penis was and my hands were too short, and my muscles too weak, for me to stretch my hands to hide it? I will never remember. It could be argued that I suffered a premature onslaught of Alzheimer’s, but it’s something all babies share – forgetting where they come from. No memory of their history …
It was a dark and stormy night in April when I was born. I’m not joking. I was born in a hut in the house of my grandfather, Alfred Kaiser Boyce, uSnama, Rhadu, Somadoda, amalandelwa yintombi ithindizeke nobaawunankomo! (S’nama, Rhadu, Somadoda, the ones who get followed by girls saying, ‘marry me even if you have no cows!’). You will be excused for thinking that Alfred Kaiser Boyce was a white man. He was not; he was as Xhosa as they come.
I was born in the small rural village of Dutyini just outside the small town of Mount Ayliff in the Transkei. My grandfather was married to Marhadebe, Victoria Boyce. The story of how they got married is as romantic as any one I have heard. Xhosa men back then were not known for their romance, not that they are now. However, I imagine I am, rather (Hello, ladies). Perhaps I should tell the story of how they got married, very briefly.
Before they got married, my grandfather (Kaiser or K as he was called by everyone in the village) and grandmother had been dating. Kaiser was very popular with the ladies because of his looks, charm, wit and his above-average education. Unlike many young black men in his time, he had gone all the way to Grade 8. A major achievement.
My grandmother, Victoria Mthimkhulu, wasn’t known as the best-looking woman around. But she had the most incredible sprit of any human being I have ever met. My grandfather had four sisters. As anyone with many sisters will know, they always have an opinion about any woman you decide you like. They could never understand his fixation on my grandmother. According to them, he was far superior to her in looks. They even called her ugly. He would respond by saying, ‘Ifigure yakhe!’ (‘What a fine figure she has!’).
He was also taken with her conservatism, politeness, steadfastness, Christian poise and the fact that she could read and write, something uncommon for women in her village at the time. I’ll never forget that when some white came to our distant village once, my grandfather was away and there was only one person who could speak to that person — my grandmother. I was too young and my English nonexistent, so I have no clue what they talked about.
My grandfather didn’t have much money so he wasn’t able to pay her lobola (dowry) right away. While he was chilling, some other fellow, a rich man in the area, paid lobola for my grandmother. Custom dictated then that if your parents had an agreement with another girl’s parents, you were supposed to marry that person, even though you had never dated. It was effectively an arranged marriage. And so it was that my grandmother was married to another man.
Upon hearing the news, Kaiser would have none of it. He hatched a plan immediately. He was in love so there was no chance in hell that some random dude, no matter how much money he had, would beat him to the punch, even if he had already beaten him to the punch.
He sent a message to my grandmother that he planned to take her from her new in-laws. She agreed to the plan only if he promised that he would pay lobola by a certain time.
In a cavalier fashion, within days of my grandmother’s marriage, my grandfather and his friends invaded the new home of his now married lover and took her. She was basically kidnapped (‘waathwalwa’).
Ukuthwalwa was not unheard of then. But to ukuthwala a woman who was already married to another man was something new altogether.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, my grandfather eventually gathered a few cattle and paid lobola for my grandmother and they lived happily until death parted them.
These were the people who raised me for the first ten years of my life. The idea that I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be is something that I observed in them; it’s not something that I would say they taught me.
My mother would come to visit Dutyini from the township of Mdanstane, just outside East London where she worked. I never really knew what to say to her because she was this beautiful woman who I was too scared to touch because I was afraid of making her dirty. She always seemed so out of place and too beautiful to be in the village. Years later, I found out that she would cry every time she left for East London, she found it unbearable that she had to leave her children behind in the rural life while she went back to an easier existence in the township.
My early education happened in this village. The teachers had an inferior education, which meant they transferred inferior knowledge to children who were already disadvantaged by life. One of my classrooms accommodated both the Grade 1s and Grade 2s. There were times when we couldn’t use the classrooms because they were being used for something else.
They say that these early years are what make us who we are. If those years made me who I am, I am grateful for them. By the time I was ten, I was a certified delinquent. I had already quit smoking weed and moved on to other things. I guess what I’m saying is that it is a miracle that I have written this book. And I want to thank everyone who has played a part in my life.
April 23, 2013 § 3 Comments
April 19, 2013 § 3 Comments
Men think they are more attractive than they really are, which is why they can get with women who are far hotter than they are. I’m probably exhibit A.
And here is the original Dove spot that has been spoofed.
April 18, 2013 § Leave a Comment
These are so bloody funny.
Here are my two favourites by writer comedian Gavin Speiller. He has great movie ideas. They start well and then he can’t get past the first page. Some funnier than others obviously. Here is his Twitter handle, you’ll find the rest of his scripts there
April 18, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The story of TV’s first-ever interracial kiss is actually one of the medium’s biggest urban legends. Most believe it occurred on Star Trek in 1968. The common belief is that the first kiss between an African-American and a Caucasian happened in a third season Star Trek episode called “Plato’s Stepchildren.” Before I correct the common misconception, I will fill you in on the details of the Star Trek kiss, which is historic in its own right.
The “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode involved the crew of the starship Enterprise being made into unwilling slaves, the condition being enforced by the “superior” beings called Platonians who have the power of telekinesis, which they employed to make the crew behave as their masters desired. William Shatner (Captain Kirk) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) are thereby “forced” to kiss.
The telekinesis made it easier for NBC to explain the kiss, as in the big scene Captain Kirk is forced to kiss the African-American Uhura against his will. Shatner, in his inimitable manner, emotes, “I-won’t-kiss-you! I-won’t-kiss-you!” But because of the great counter-effort, the kiss does, indeed, take place.
William Shatner, in his book Star Trek Memories, insists that he and actress Nichols never actually kissed during the scene; he maintains that their lips never touched. However, Nichols positively declares that they did lock lips. It seems incredible that such a major event is not more clearly recalled, as obviously either Shatner or Nichols is mistaken. The kiss itself is obscured by the back of Nichols’ head, so we, the viewers, can’t tell who is right.
NBC, nervous about the reaction from their Southern affiliates, insisted that an alternate take be shot, one without the kiss. After Shatner and Nichols shot several kisses, the alternate takes were attempted. Both Shatner and Nichols agree on what happened next.
During every alternate take, Shatner crossed his eyes goofily, thus ruining any further takes. According to Nichols, NBC was still against using the kiss, so she went to view the dailies and see the reaction of the NBC brass. After viewing the kiss and the “cross-eyed” alternate takes, the NBC suits finally conceded and said, “To hell with it. Let’s go with the kiss.”
Nichols recalled the flood of mail the show received after the episode was aired. To her surprise, it was all positive. She even recalled one letter from a Southern viewer, which said: “I am totally opposed to the mixing of the races. However, any time a red-blooded American boy like Captain Kirk gets a beautiful dame in his arms that looks like Uhura, he ain’t gonna fight it.”
April 17, 2013 § 1 Comment
Alagamun-lan, weh, wakun, heya, hanun, gon
Alagamun-lan, weh, makun, heya, hanun, gon
Alagamun-lan, ari, gari, hanon, kari, he
Alagamun-lan, we-like, we like party, hey
Ichiba, varriya, is hara moru, mashi sondori, yama, varriya
Yougun, pegi, tur, equa, machen, varriya
Noga, onku, pega, haga, kunge, nande, varriya
Damn girl, you’re so freakin sexy
I-I-I I’m a, I-I-I I’m a
I-I-I I’m a, mother-father-gentleman
I-I-I I’m a, I-I-I I’m a
I-I-I I’m a, mother-father-gentleman
I-I-I I’m a, I-I-I I’m a
I-I-I I’m a, mother-father-gentleman
Alagamun-lan, weh, mikuneya, hana, gon
Alagamun-lan. weh, sikuneya, hana, gon
Alagamun-lan, pali, pali, wasa, nelly, neh
Alagamun-lan, nali, nali, nasa, pali, hee
Ichiba, varaniya, nori, moli, holy, daddy, chunga, ri
Varriya, get feeling, feeling good, brutake
Varriya, gachu, gunya, sorinage, sorinage
Varriya, damn girl, I’mma party, morphine
I-I-I I’m a, I-I-I I’m a
I-I-I I’m a, mother-father-gentleman
I-I-I I’m a, I-I-I I’m a
I-I-I I’m a, mother-father-gentleman
I-I-I I’m a, I-I-I I’m a
I-I-I I’m a, mother-father-gentleman
Gonna make you sweat
Gonna make you wet
You know who I am, west side
Gonna make you sweat
Gonna make you wet
You know who I am, west side
I-I-I I’m a, I-I-I I’m a
I-I-I I’m a, mother-father-gentleman
I-I-I I’m a, I-I-I I’m a
I-I-I I’m a, mother-father-gentleman
I-I-I I’m a, I-I-I I’m a
I-I-I I’m a, mother-father-gentleman
I don’t know if you know why it needs to be hot
I don’t know if you know why it needs to be clean
I don’t know if you know, it’ll be a problem if you’re confused
I don’t know if you know but we like, we we we like to party
If I’m going to introduce myself
I’m a cool guy with courage, spirit and craziness
What you wanna hear, what you wanna do is me
Damn! Girl! You so freakin sexy!
Ah Ah Ah Ah I’m a…
Ah Ah Ah Ah I’m a…
Ah Ah Ah Ah I’m a mother father gentleman
Ah Ah Ah Ah I’m a…
Ah Ah Ah Ah I’m a…
Ah Ah Ah Ah I’m a mother father gentleman
I’m a, ah I’m a
I’m a mother father gentleman
I’m a, ah I’m a
I’m a mother father gentleman
I’m a, ah I’m a
I’m a mother father gentleman
I’m a, ah I’m a
I’m a mother father gentleman
I’m a, ah I’m a
I’m a mother father gentleman
I’m a, ah I’m a
I’m a mother father gentleman
I don’t know if you know why it needs to be smooth
I don’t know if you know why it needs to be sexy
I don’t know if you know darling, hurry and come be crazy
I don’t know if you know, it’s crazy, crazy, hurry up
Your head, waist, legs, calves
Good! Feeling feeling? Good! It’s soft
I’ll make you gasp and I’ll make you scream
Damn! Girl! I’m a party mafia!
Ah Ah Ah Ah I’m a…
Ah Ah Ah Ah I’m a…
Ah Ah Ah Ah I’m a mother father gentleman
Ah Ah Ah Ah I’m a…
Ah Ah Ah Ah I’m a…
Ah Ah Ah Ah I’m a mother father gentleman
I’m a, ah I’m a
I’m a mother father gentleman
I’m a, ah I’m a
I’m a mother father gentleman
Gonna make you sweat.
Gonna make you wet
You know who I am Wet PSY
Gonna make you sweat.
Gonna make you wet.
You know who I am
Wet PSY! Wet PSY! Wet PSY! Wet PSY! PSY! PSY! PSY!
Ah I’m a mother father gentleman
I’m a, ah I’m a
I’m a mother father gentleman
I’m a, ah I’m a, I’m a mother father gentleman
Mother father gentleman
Mother father gentleman
April 15, 2013 § 2 Comments
This young man, Richard Tseng, is one of 20 people who were retrenched from an ad agency in Canada last week.
The very same agency had to get rid of another 20 last months. He wrote one of the classiest exit letters I have ever read. He is a copywriter. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s someone who writes ads. That’s not all but it’s the simplest explanation. If I were an Executive Creative Director, I would hire him immediately. I wouldn’t even ask to see his portfolio. His letter says everything about his character, sincerity and his ethic. If I made a mistake hiring him, I’d be glad I did. Here is his exit letter:
In Canada’s frozen north, during a particularly harsh winter, a starving Eskimo tribe (Inuit for the politically correct) was forced to abandon their eldest matron on the ice. Being a tough old broad, she followed her clan for several days, making sure to keep just out of sight.
One day, a polar bear happened upon her. Taking her for a straggler and an easy meal it strolled up to her, mouth open, ready to swallow with one gulp. The Eskimo lady waited and, once in range, plunged her walking stick down the bear’s gullet.
Hours later the clansmen could see her, cresting a snow hill, dragging behind her enough meat to feed the whole tribe.
Times are tough, and circumstances beyond anybody’s control have dictated that I must leave. Totally understand. But, as Rahm Emanuel would say, “Never fucking waste a fucking crisis, fucker.” Which is another way of saying that it’s actually an opportunity. And I intend on seizing it.
So thanks to every member of this tribe called Arnold. It’s been an honor and pleasure working with you. I hope our paths cross again. Who knows? I might even be back one day. Hopefully with enough polar bear sushi to share.
In the words of a fellow young Canadian:
Never say never,
That’s right, he quoted Justin Bieber.
April 13, 2013 § 5 Comments
Except from my book, In My Arrogant Opinion
A great deal of intrigue has risen around the word, ‘towning’ or to ‘town’ lately, thanks to the loud and powerful minority on the social networks. Every other day there is someone asking what the word means. To my surprise, I have even seen some of my melanin-disadvantaged brethren use it freely – and correctly at that. I have taken it upon myself to educate those who do not know. So sit down kids and listen to a history lesson you will not find in your textbooks. The origins of Towning. I will give you the raw, naked truth.
Towning is not to be confused with planking. Although it is a form of planking. Don’t worry, I’ll get into it later. I was going to take some time and explain what planking is in case some of you reading this have no idea. Don’t worry if you do not know, you have not missed much. But if you insist and really, really want to know, please consult (to quote George W. Bush) ‘The Google’, and while you’re at it, urbandictionary.com, they are sure to explain to you what it is. Maybe you should simply Google images. As they say, a picture tells a thousand words.
Where was I? Oh yes, towning. This is a very popular word with the Eastern Cape crowd. You can hardly go anywhere without hearing about it. In fact, if it were not for towning, none of us would be here.
Even though the word originated from the Eastern Cape, those who are from that province are aware that it comes from their region, but they would not be able to tell anyone about its history and origins. As a self-appointed towning historian, I believe it is my God-given duty to educate. Well, sit back, get a cup of coffee, tea or whatever it is you drink and take a sip as you read.
Let me cut to the chase right from the get go, beating around the bush isn’t really going to take us far. Do excuse the puns. Don’t worry, you’ll notice them in a second. The term basically means having sex without a condom. Uyatawuna. Ukutawuna. Now you know. However, read on and find out the more interesting aspect of this story. The history of towning. Not so much the history of towning, but the history of the word.
According to legend, ukutawuna originated from one of South Africa’s largest townships, (my hometown by the way) Mdantsane, a township just outside East London. Those of you who have had the misfortune of never having lived there, you have no idea what you are missing. Some of you will know Mdantsane for producing some of the greatest boxing champions in the world and, of course, me.
As an aside, when then world boxing champion Vuyani Bhungu had just won his championship, an interviewer asked him what he was going to do for his family now that he had won. His response is legendary, ‘I’ll braai them all.’ But let me get back to ukutawuna.
Back in the day, there used to be one taxi route from Mdantsane to East London. If you wanted to catch a taxi from Mdantsane to East London (which was simply called town, or as the Xhosas say, ‘etawuni’) you had to go to the biggest taxi rank in the township. The taxi rank is famously known as Highway. To this day I still don’t know how it managed to get this odd name, especially since there is no highway to be seen anywhere near.
As time moved on, a new area developed in greater East London called Vincent. A mall by the name, *drum roll*, Vincent Park Mall, opened there. As one would imagine, it became very popular. In order to accommodate all the people who worked and shopped there, a new taxi route opened up from Mdantsane and it was named, well, you guessed it, Vincent. This means when you were at the taxi rank in Mdantsane Highway, you could get a taxi that could take you directly to Vincent.
At the taxi rank in Mdantsane Highway, you’d hear taxi drivers shouting to passersby, ‘Vincent! Vincent! Vincent! Vincent!’ For some reason, they always felt the need to shout it in rapid-fire bursts of four as if you wouldn’t know you were going there if they just said it once or twice.
Now you need to follow what I’m going to say closely. I wouldn’t want to lose you after we’ve gone so far in this story.
The Vincent taxi didn’t only stop in Vincent but also went to central town. This raised a bit of a conundrum for the taxis that were going to town but not via Vincent. What to call their route? And how to make it seem more attractive?
Remember, previously they simply shouted, ‘Town!’ Now they had to find a more marketable phrase to make their route more attractive. Thus, ‘Town straight!’ was born.
Remember, both routes end up in town, but the one goes via Vincent. The advantage of simply saying ‘Town straight’ meant that you were letting your passengers know that they could go directly to town without having to go via Vincent. That was a waste of their time. The destination is the same but the time to get there is longer if you go via Vincent. Thus the birth of ‘towning’.
When AIDS came, so did condoms. And so clever boys in Mdantsane started referring to sex without a condom as ‘Town Straight’. It was essentially the same as taking a taxi from Mdantsane Highway and ending up in town without having the hassle of taking the long route. If you had sex with a condom it was like taking a taxi from Mdantsane Highway to Vincent, then to town. It was a longer way of getting the same result.
As time moved on, having sex without a condom was no longer referred to as Town Straight, but a Xhosalised version of it, which is ukutawuna. There are several colloquial references to it now. A person who towns regularly is called a town planner.
Happy towning friends. I kid. I kid. (Well, towning does lead to kids)
April 10, 2013 § 4 Comments
First appeared on my news24 column May 17, 2011
It was the best of tweets, it was the worst of tweets, it was an age of Direct Messages, it was an epoch of Facebook status updates, it was an epoch of retweets, it was a season of avatars, it was a season of Facebook status comments, we had nothing before it, we had everything after it; in short, everyone heard us, but nobody listened to us, we were all friends, we were all lonely…
The first time he noticed her was from a response she made to his tweet. He doesn’t remember her reply though. But the picture, or as the people on the social networks call it, the “avatar” was a site, I mean, sight to behold. He replied and then followed her back immediately. Not long after, he sent her a DM. She didn’t respond.
Every time someone sent him a private message he would look only to be met with cyber disappointment, cyber silence. Yet she was tweeting and not responding to him. “I’m sorry if I offended you,” he DMed her. “Uunless you feel I didn’t offend you enough.” He knew this was a risk too but he took it. Her response was immediate. She laughed and called him silly. #TheSocialMediaGods are with me he said to himself. *air punch*
What came next truly surprised him. When he went to other side of the tracks (Facebook), he discovered he had been poked by none other than nice Miss Avatar. He pokes back. She pokes back. He pokes. She pokes back. He pokes back. She pokes. He pokes. She doesn’t poke back but sends him a friend request instead and he does an air punch and does not care about the Windhoek guy coming to him to ask him what he was doing.
Just when he thought things couldn’t get any better, she sends him a message: “I noticed on your tweets that it says, ‘Twitter for BlackBerry’. Well, here’s my BBM pin. Let’s chat!” Then she ell o ells (that’s LOL to you). He thinks this is a match made in Social Media Heaven.
They begin to BBM back and forth, all day and all night. Suddenly they have “insomnia”, which would have been cured immediately if they got off their BlackBerrys of course. They become less sociable with people in their presence but ever more present with each other even though they are nowhere near one another.
They organise to meet. It as if they have known each other for years when they meet. He discovers that the phrases she uses on BBM chat are actually phrases she uses in real life. The awkwardness that one would expect is less pronounced. There is nothing much to prove because they shared parts of who they are in their distance.
They have a great day together. She writes on her BBM status update after the date: “OMG I had the best day ever! BBM heart, BBM hearts in eyes, BBM blushing face and BBM dancing emoticon.”
It is not long before she starts tweeting incomprehensible tweets like: “:-).” That’s it. That’s the tweet. Other tweets are interspersed with hearts. And things like, “What a great feeling.” And no sooner that happens there is a change from “Single” on Facebook to “In a Relationship”. She presses him to do the same. He refuses. She presses some more.
“Why don’t you want to change your relationship status? In fact, you have to say you are in a relationship with me.” He says he doesn’t want people knowing his business. Eventually he succumbs. Her friends comment on the change of relationship status update. Many click like on the new status update – even those who are not happy that she is in a relationship fake happiness for her for her newfound love.
Then without warning things turn for the worst. She subliminally tweet: “How can you greet the whole world on Twitter before you greet me?!” Another one after that one: “You are not in a relationship with the world. I am your girlfriend!” (Don’t know how subliminal it truly is if we can tell that it is in fact subliminal).
People no longer wear their hearts on their sleeves, but on their BBM and Facebook status updates.
She unfollows him on Twitter. He subliminally tweets “Duces” and proceeds to unfollow her. She changes her relationship status update and unfriends him. As much as they have unfollowed each other, common friends still retweet and reply to their tweets which ultimately mean they still see each other tweets anyway. They may be out of sight, but they are not out of site. As much as they want to forget about each other, social media makes sure they are constantly aware of what the other is doing.
Then one day she tweets him a simple, “Hi.” He replies, “; -)”. The cycle starts all over again as they start following each another. This is love in a time of social media.
March 27, 2013 § 1 Comment
This is a great and controversial ad by Nike. What I like about it is that Nike is not afraid of having a point of view. They could have played it safe and said, “Congratulations on retaining the number 1 spot.” Brands needs to have a point of view and that’s what makes them resonate. After all these years, Nike still acts like a challenger sports brand even though it is the number 1 brand in the world. Respect.
March 20, 2013 § 2 Comments
originally appeared on my news24 column on 2010-08-03 14:30
One thing that can be said about beauty is that it doesn’t last, ugly on the other hand does. Beauty is the sprinter, ugly is the marathon. Would you rather have something temporary or something that lasts? Actually, that is a dumb question; most would rather be good looking temporarily even though most wouldn’t dare admit that publicly, after all, who wants to be thought of as shallow? I’d choose beauty first, then ugly later, at least I would have the best of both worlds by the time my time on planet earth expires.
Anonymous once said beauty is only skin deep. (Just an aside here, who is anonymous? And why is he so widely quoted?) Much like beauty, ugly is also only skin deep. This is a little acknowledged fact in this mostly beautiful but sometimes ugly world. And just for the record I don’t like the word ugly, it’s such an ugly word.
This is not meant to be an ugly column at all and I suspect some of the comments are going to get pretty ugly so I have already braced myself for the onslaught of internal ugliness, the worse kind. The kind that no amount of plastic surgery can fix.
Admit it, you’re a bit shallow too. If you’re on any social networks chances are your profile picture is you at your most dashingly good-looking. In fact my latest status update on Facebook says, “It really isn’t my fault that my profile picture is better looking than I am.” Very few people put up their less attractive selves on Facebook or Twitter. Women are particularly good at this. When a group photo is taken they always look at the photo first, the first person they look at is themselves. This is done to ensure that they look really good. Anyone else really doesn’t matter, the photo is only a good photo if they look good.
Ugly is an emotive word. Who decides what is ugly and isn’t anyway? The moment we even think that someone may be slightly unattractive we immediately remove those thoughts because they expose something in us we might not want to confront, that we all have certain amount of shallowness. Nobody wants to be known to be shallow.
A single friend of mine constantly asks his pretty female friends to hook him up. The responses are always a variation of the following answers, “Oh, I have a very lovely friend I can introduce you to.” “I know who I can hook you up with, she is amazing.” Then my friend would say, “Yes I understand but is she as pretty as you are?” Then the evasive answer from the beautiful woman comes in a shape and form that would rival any politician trying to avoid answering a tough question. “She is a very nice person, very interesting, well read and very selfless.”
You get the picture. My shallow friend then always says, “You must understand one thing, I want this friend you want to hook me up with to be as pretty as you are, if not, then to be prettier.” Without fail, they always smile because they rarely have friends prettier than they are.
My friend’s favourite thing to say to these beautiful women goes something like this, “Before you introduce me to your friend, tell me one thing, do you think Whoopi Goldberg is hot? Because I will judge how beautiful your friend is based on what you think of Ms Goldberg.” The assumption he makes is that pretty women only make friends with women who are less attractive than them.
Perhaps there is some truth to that.
There are fewer beautiful people than those who are not. This also explains why we always remark on how beautiful a particular individual is when we see them. Most of us are in the average percentile when it comes to the looks department (I probably just scrapped it into average, but I still qualify for below average too.) Therefore it stands to reason that women who are extremely attractive are more likely to have friends who are less attractive than they are. This doesn’t require rocket science.
Truth is, just like guys, women don’t walk around saying, “Nah, she’s too good looking, don’t want to be her to my friend.” Guys also don’t choose friends by saying, “You know what, that guy is at acceptable levels of unattractiveness therefore we can be friends.”
A friend is beautiful regardless of how ugly or beautiful they are. So is it better to be ugly of beautiful? It’s better to be human. There is plastic surgery to make us look beautiful, but there is no plastic surgery for character. For lack of better words, beauty is character deep.
March 20, 2013 § 1 Comment
March 15, 2013 § 4 Comments
originally published on my news24 column on 2010-09-28 08:10
You know what you want. You know what to do to get it. Yet you don’t do that which will make you who you want to be. Why is it that you know what to do in order to get to where you want to be but don’t do it? What is it about the human condition that creates this self-destructive monster, which eats away at your dreams one excuse at a time? What is it that causes us to become comfortable with it? It can only be said that you are a big wimpy coward. Too afraid of your own success. Too afraid of knowing what you’ll be like if you succeed.
It is the cowardice that causes you to blame someone else or something else. It is cowardice that makes you point fingers. So Khaya, in a sea of cowards you are the biggest one. Don’t just point one finger at yourself as the rest point at the world, let them all point at you and look within the inner coward, Mr Good Reasons. Yes, I am Mr Excuses, Mr This Is Why It Can’t Be Done, Mr This Is Why I Can’t Do it. How about just being Mr Just Do It?
What is it about cowardice that you find so much more attractive than courage? Surely failure should be the ugliest girl in the club? Why go to the ugliest girl in the room when I know that I want the prettiest girl?
Maybe success and achieving one’s goals is as frightening as failure. It is also possible that we are so accustomed to seeing failure and mediocrity that we accept second best. We don’t mind being the co-star instead of the star; winning bronze instead of gold. The acceptance of second best has become too commonplace. We see it everywhere; second rate everything, even second rate second rates.
The reason for this is that we are too good at having great reasons as to why we can’t do what we should do, what we must do in order to shine and be our better selves. Our reasons for not doing are often of sound logic and make sense, but at the end of the day, reasons are just a good name we give to excuses.
The greatest excuse of all: “What will people think of me if I decide to pursue this dream that I have?” The tragedy is that people won’t think anything of you if you don’t. Yet they will think the world of you when you succeed and make it. There is no failing. The only failing is not trying. Who cares if you don’t make it? At least you would have tried and given it the shot you have.
Courage is not in the big things we achieve. Courage lives in the small decisions. Courage is not in the running in order to lose weight, it’s in the decision to wake up 30 minutes earlier, put on your shoes and start running.
You could dismiss this as Oprah pop psychology or you could really look at yourself and ask yourself some tough questions about why you are still where you are when you know where you could be. Maybe this is Oprah pop psychology but Oprah has titanic achievements so I’m not about to dismiss it.
What if you stopped saying “if”?
And if only
What if you never say “what if” except to ignite your imagination?
What if you turned your “what if” into action?
What if you act and not stop at “what if”?
What if you became great instead of imagining it?
What if someone acts on your “what ifs”?
Act on your “what ifs” before someone else does.
Know what you want. Know why you want it and do the necessary to get it.
So Khaya, are you going to be a coward, or are you going to make a lot of small courageous decisions?
March 12, 2013 § 1 Comment
first appeared on my news24 column on 2011-07-07 07:46
I must say, when I first thought about what celebrity is I thought I’d try to define it by saying that if one is well known in their village then they are famous. But then I thought about it again, everyone in a village knows everyone therefore that means all are famous in a village. The way I saw it, if you are famous where you are, then you are famous. But, alas, I was wrong.
The first thing I decided to do before I wrote about this was to find the definition of the word “celebrity”. So I picked up my very big Concise Oxford Dictionary. It’s concise, yet it is two-Bible’s thick. The irony is not lost to me. This two-Bibles thick object said, and I quote: “Celebrity: 1 a famous person. 2 the state of being famous.” Seriously? How was this supposed to help me in any shape or form? Is that all you’re going to tell me a celebrity is? Then I decided to go the ever-reliable internet, and it did a much better job.
This is the definition of a celebrity according to Wikipedia: “A celebrity, also referred to as a celeb in popular culture, is a person who has a prominent profile in the media and is easily recognised. Celebrity status might be associated with certain professions and frequent appearances in the media. It can arise as a result of career planning but it can also arise by accident or as a result of infamy.”
The Wikipedia definition really defines celebrity in three parts. The first being easily recognised because of the media. The second is that of celebrity status, ie, having the status of a celebrity due to a certain profession and frequent media appearances. And the third seems to be by accident or as a result of say, being a serial killer that’s just been arrested. Infamy.
Where then do “internet famous” people fall in this category? Let’s face it, there are some people who are just famous for being on the internet, or just famous on the internet. So does this make these people celebrities? I would like to say they are not.
Why? Let me break it down according to the Wikipedia definition. People who are known on the internet are not easily recognised by people who are not on the internet therefore they are not celebrities. The internet is not big in SA. The Daily Sun is. TV is. And so is radio. Therefore there are no internebrities in South Africa. They may have a prominent profile, but that profile is prominent in the form of a singular source of media, the internet. A true celebrity on the other hand is ubiquitous.
The moment one thinks that their internet fame means more than what it is, they are kidding themselves. When one plays Monopoly, one takes the game very seriously, but in the end, it’s not real houses and most importantly, the money is not real. To a certain degree, that’s what internet fame is. It isn’t real. But one can, I suppose turn it into a commodity if they are so inclined.
If one thinks that they have power because of Twitter then they are delusional. There is no power. There is perceived power. If you have a large audience and you believe you have power, I feel sorry for you because that means you haven’t lived. Allow me to quote one of my tweets I import from a brain of mine that I keep in Mars, “Don’t confuse your “power” on Twitter with your power in real life. Real life is more important. It always has been and always will be.
The problem with internebrity is that sometimes people who have gained some sort of following is that thing I warned against in my I’m Nonhle Thema Bitch column – don’t believe your own hype. The thing with hype is that that’s just what it is, hype. You still have to do something. You still have to add some value to life, one being merely present and have a large following does not mean much. The question is what are you doing with your life other than just trying to be an internebrity? Some people sadly want fame at all costs. If it means internebrity then so be it. It doesn’t matter what they are famous for as long as they are famous.
Let me get a little personal here. The last few years I was known more for my job than anything else. I’d get interviewed by publications, radio stations and television programmes for what I do. I was known for what I do and have done, including the accolades I’ve been fortunate enough to achieve in my time in the advertising and marketing arena. Internebrity came by accident.
In the future, not too long from now, there will come a time when internebrity is celebrity because that is how most people will consume their media. We have not reached that stage yet in South Africa. Right now, especially on Twitter, we should stop, breath and realise that Twitter is not the meaning of life.
Yes it has opened a lot of avenues for many people, myself included. For some of us, it seems as if the internet is Twitter. There is a good reason for this. It allows engagement and interaction. It’s instantaneous. It allows everyone to be a broadcaster. One’s ideas or thoughts can be accepted or rejected immediately.
It was great amusement when I listened to a radio interview on Metro FM last night as they discussed the issue of celebrity. What I found amusing was that people who are “known” on the internet were somehow mentioned as well, and yes, my name was thrown in the pot as well. It is a mistake to think internebrities are famous when the internet is a mere drop in South Africa, and Twitter is a mere molecule within that drop.
A loud minority
People, on Twitter in particular, have an outsized share of voice on media platforms outside the social media platform. They are the loud minority. I will share a bit of the blame. I am loud out there. But this does not make one famous. (I decided to pull a page of Thabo Mbeki there and refer to myself as “one”.)
I am not a celebrity nor do I have a desire to be.
Then you have those who define you by the single prism they know, which might be Twitter. They think that is all you have ever achieved with your life. Just because you define someone by Twitter doesn’t mean that is how they define themselves. Of course it is perfectly possible and plausible that there may be people who do and take it way more seriously than it should be. From what I have seen, a lot of the people who manage to garner some followership have successful careers and or are on a path towards success. So for them this doesn’t mean anything to them, it’s just an outlet to relax, have fun and let out steam. It certainly doesn’t mean that much to these people. Instead of watching TV or playing PlayStation, they tweet.
Some people may think you take these Tweeter streets seriously, or think that you want to be famous…
Just to end this off with a really confusing sentence: Just because you think someone thinks they are something doesn’t really mean they think they are what you think they think they are.
I hope I left you sufficiently confused.
March 5, 2013 § 1 Comment
Originally appeared on my News24 column 2010-12-08 07:54
Oscar Pistorius’s dad said some disturbing things this week when he said that it is the ANC’s fault that people have to have guns because the ANC doesn’t protect white people. He reminded me of comments Steve Hofmeyr made. This was a column in response to what Steve Hofmeyr said.
Let’s face it; there is a deep and unspoken view when it comes to crime in South Africa it is black. Some will go on to quote prison stats. Of course, the stats will back them up.
Most of our prisoners are black. True. What often amuses me are those people who think that they are not being racist when they say that it is logical that most crime will be committed by black people because there are more black people in South Africa than other racial group.
That’s an understandable position to hold. However, the numbers may be racially neutral and factual. Unfortunately, people’s intentions with their stats aren’t always neutral.
According to translations of Steve Hofmeyr’s Facebook status update he said: “We must not generalise, most black people I know are not violent but they slurp up the propaganda of entitlement, which gives young killers what they need to justify their brutality.”
What is this propaganda he speaks? I am not aware of it? Hofmeyr hides his racism behind the veil of “we must not generalise”, but then immediately cancels that out by saying “they slurp up the propaganda of entitlement”.
Then Hofmeyr’s racial tirade continued, this time evoking Christianity by saying: “I don’t know how the world thinks we should transform, integrate and let go of our prejudices and stay nice, tolerant Christians when blacks can shoot a three-year-old child in the head. Sorry to emphasise the colour, but I’m struggling to spot the terrible whites who climb over blacks’ walls to do that to their children.”
As much as I could point out cases in which there was white on black murder, I refuse to go there because Hofmeyr’s intentions are not that of a South African that is trying to heal our wounded past. If anything, it appears he would rather see a racial intolerance of the past. This is not going to happen. South Africans across racial lines prefer this South Africa to the one Hofmeyr is reaching out for.
If Hofmeyr’s comments were racially neutral, he would have mentioned the fact that blacks are actually greater victims of crime than white people. According to futurist Guy Lundy, for every 33 black people who are victims of murder, only one is white.
Black people outnumber whites by a margin of seven to one. If you do the maths, you will realise that there is no targeting of white people. If white people were being targeted by black people, those numbers would be significantly higher. If anything, blacks are targeting themselves!
Steve Hofmeyr’s Facebook comments were made in response to an attack, which happened in the Free State. Six men were arrested for the murder of Attie Potgieter, his wife Wilna and their three-year-old daughter Willemien on their farm in the Free State last week.
His tirade didn’t end: “Blacks (God knows, probably not all of them, but most of those I observe) feel justified and ‘entitled’ in everything, from quotas/low matric marks to land rights/brutality.”
Hofmeyr’s statements suggest that the government is involved in systematic propaganda that somehow incites blacks to refuse to think for themselves and thus perpetrate crimes against whites because of this propaganda. If anyone is engaged in propaganda, it is Hofmeyr.
Crime is neither black nor white. Crime is crime. All our blood is red. It gets spilled, people die and people are buried because of crime. Regardless of skin colour.
The mistake that he made is that he thinks all South Africans share his tainted views. We are all angry when a crime is committed; we don’t rejoice because it affected one racial group and not another.
We will not be divided by an ageing musician trying to stay relevant. South Africa is far better than Steve Hofmeyr.
March 2, 2013 § 1 Comment
February 22, 2013 § Leave a Comment
These 9 guys all putt their balls into one hole.
February 20, 2013 § 6 Comments
originally appeared on my News24 column on 2011-12-01 08:23
The friend zone is a dangerous place to find oneself in. It is virtually impossible to extricate oneself out of friend-zonism. Many naïve young men have willingly come into the friend-zone thinking that they can get out easily. No, my friend. Don’t fool yourself. It is an abyss so deep and dark you can’t get out. And worse, you can’t get into the deep dark place you really want to get in.
What is the friend-zone, you may ask. Wikipedia describes it as: “The friend-zone is a dating term describing a relation in which one partner wants to become intimate romantically while the other prefers to be just friends. It is generally regarded as not a positive development, particularly for a man. The sense is that once this has happened to a relationship, it’s difficult to undo.”
It is not just men who fall prey to this one-way romance field. Women too. But men are the ones who are most likely to fall victim to this naïve crime. It is a maximum-security prison without parole.
Emotional Booty Call
The person who has friend-zoned you gets all the benefits while you get nada. The friend-zoned entity becomes nothing but an emotional outlet. When she has some relationship issues or likes some other guy who doesn’t like her back, she will call the friend-zonee. And the friend-zonee will listen with the most care and give some advice. The phone call will probably end with, “Thanks friend”.
The friend-zonee is always hoping that someday, the friend-zoner will see the error of her/his ways and decide that they want you after all. All you will see is her moving from one relationship to another, except with you. Idiot.
She will tell her friends that there is nothing going on between you, while you lie, perhaps to your friends and say, “I hit that.” We see you liar. We see you.
I’ve seen guys tell their friend-zoner that they like some other girl hoping that the friend-zonee will get jealous. Instead, she gets genuinely happy for him and starts picking out outfits for him to wear on a date.
I my friends, yes, me, a whole Khaya Dlanga, was once friend-zoned. I was young and naïve. The line that was used on me was, “I am in a relationship with Jesus.” I mean, what could I have said to that? I turned to her and said, “At least I lost to a better man.” And thus the journey to the depths of friend-zonism began. But I managed to get out.
The friend-zone is a form of romantic abuse. When people see you together they may say things like, “Are you two a couple?” She will laugh and say of course not. The friend-zonee will feel all warm and fuzzy about this, foolishly. She will do everything she would do with a boyfriend with you, but none of the stuff you wish she would do to you.
How to get out
Rule number one: Don’t even get into the friend-zone.
Stop hanging out with her so often. Hang out with her about once every two weeks, even then, not for too long.
Don’t go shopping with her:
Once you start going shopping with her, especially if she started calling you friend, you are toast buddy. You essentially become the gay friend she always wanted to have who’d help her with her shopping. If she says, “Let’s go shopping.” Just tell her you’re not interested and you’re not her gay friend. (Is saying gay friend offensive?)
Refuse to sleep in the same bed as her:
If she says you can sleep in the same bed. Hell, refuse to sleep in the same house. While you pretend to sleep and tortured by thoughts of her in bed she is sleeping peacefully, dreaming about her boyfriend or potential boyfriend. Why put yourself through that hell?
Refuse to talk about her emotional issues:
When she starts talking about some emotional issues she has, stop her immediately! This is the greatest trap. You think that she is starting to trust you, so she’s opening up to you by telling you her issues. She isn’t. She’s trapping you.
Tell her straight up:
Tell her you’re no longer interested in being in her friend-zone. If she wants to go out, hang out, it’s fine, but none of that girly, crying, cuddly, shoppy stuff with you anymore. You’re out of there. Be out and mean it.
The friend-zone is where many soldiers go to die.
Don’t become friends, my friend. The friend-zone is not your friend, my friend. Be warned.
February 20, 2013 § 1 Comment
two goals with one kick
February 20, 2013 § 2 Comments
This is the funniest thing I’ve seen all day
Here is the link to the blog
February 19, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Ali was right. Obama was elected after Bush. The ship was sinking, and they got Obama.
February 18, 2013 § 2 Comments
February 16, 2013 § Leave a Comment
This originally appeared on Brainpicker
In the fall of 1938, Radcliffe College sophomore Frances Turnbull sent her latest short story to family friend F. Scott Fitzgerald. His response:
November 9, 1938
I’ve read the story carefully and, Frances, I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at present. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.
This is the experience of all writers. It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his whole childhood. Ernest Hemingway’s first stories ‘In Our Time’ went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known. In ‘This Side of Paradise’ I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.
The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming — the amateur thinks he or she can do the same. But the amateur can only realize his ability to transfer his emotions to another person by some such desperate and radical expedient as tearing your first tragic love story out of your heart and putting it on pages for people to see.
That, anyhow, is the price of admission. Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is ‘nice’ is something for you to decide. But literature, even light literature, will accept nothing less from the neophyte. It is one of those professions that wants the ‘works.’ You wouldn’t be interested in a soldier who was only a little brave.
In the light of this, it doesn’t seem worth while to analyze why this story isn’t saleable but I am too fond of you to kid you along about it, as one tends to do at my age. If you ever decide to tell your stories, no one would be more interested than,
Your old friend,
F. Scott Fitzgerald
P.S. I might say that the writing is smooth and agreeable and some of the pages very apt and charming. You have talent — which is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point.
Two years prior, in another letter to his fifteen-year-old daughter Scottie upon her enrollment in high school, Fitzgerald offered more wisdom on the promise and perils of writing:
Grove Park Inn
October 20, 1936
Don’t be a bit discouraged about your story not being tops. At the same time, I am not going to encourage you about it, because, after all, if you want to get into the big time, you have to have your own fences to jump and learn from experience. Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be one. If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before, you have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before, so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter—as indissolubly as if they were conceived together.
Let me preach again for one moment: I mean that what you have felt and thought will by itself invent a new style so that when people talk about style they are always a little astonished at the newness of it, because they think that is only style that they are talking about, when what they are talking about is the attempt to express a new idea with such force that it will have the originality of the thought. It is an awfully lonesome business, and as you know, I never wanted you to go into it, but if you are going into it at all I want you to go into it knowing the sort of things that took me years to learn.
Nothing any good isn’t hard, and you know you have never been brought up soft, or are you quitting on me suddenly? Darling, you know I love you, and I expect you to live up absolutely to what I laid out for you in the beginning.
January 31, 2013 § 2 Comments
This is the sweetest, saddest yet hopeful thing you’ll see all day today.
January 30, 2013 § 2 Comments
this originally appeared on a note I wrote on Facebook in 2009. @sugeezy took it upon herself to remind me of these abbreviations and I figured I should post them on these here parts. And do follow her if you so desire. She is exceedingly ungovernable though. You have been warned.
Recently someone asked me how you write LOL ngesiXhosa and I took it upon myself to create these abbreviations. Some are direct translations, others are not. (feel free to suggest others) Here goes:
LOL = HK (Hleka Kakhulu) or HKL (Hleka kakhulu laway)
LMAO = HIZZ (Hleka impundu Zam Zisuke)
OMG = OYWN (Oh Yehova Wezulu Nomhlaba)
OMG = OKW (Oh Kumkani wookumkani!)
WTF? = YLK (Yinto le kaka)
ROFL = ZJJP (Zi jika jike phantsi)
ASAP = Ngoku Ngoku
I have decided to add a few more
OOMF = OWZ (Omnye Wezithunzela Zam)
GTFOH = PKT (Phuma uphele kulom towno)
January 29, 2013 § 2 Comments
This is why Obama is awesome.
Dear Barack Obama,
It’s Sophia Bailey Klugh. Your friend who invited you to dinner. You don’t remember okay that’s fine. But I just wanted to tell you that I am so glad you agree that two men can love each other because I have two dads and they love each other. But at school kids think that it’s gross and weird but it really hurts my heart and feelings. So I come to you because you are my hero. If you were me and you had two dads that loved each other, and kids at school teased you about it, what would you do?
I just wanted to say you really inspire me, and I hope you win on being the president. You would totally make the world a better place.
Your friend Sophia
P.S. Please tell your daughters Hi for me!
President Barack Obama
November 1, 2012
Miss Sophia Bailey-Klugh
Thank you for writing me such a thoughtful letter about your family. Reading it made me proud to be your president and even more hopeful about the future of our nation.
In America, no two families look the same. We celebrate this diversity. And we recognize that whether you have two dads or one mom what matters above all is the love we show one another. You are very fortunate to have two parents who care deeply for you. They are lucky to have such an exceptional daughter in you.
Our differences unite us. You and I are blessed to live in a country where we are born equal no matter what we look like on the outside, where we grow up, or who our parents are. A good rule is to treat others the way you hope they will treat you. Remind your friends at school about this rule if they say something that hurts your feelings.
Thanks again for taking the time to write to me. I’m honored to have your support and inspired by your compassion. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to dinner, but I’ll be sure to tell Sasha and Malia you say hello.
(Signed, ‘Barack Obama’)
Ronald Reagan’s letter to his son days before his wedding: if I ever have a son, I hope to write him a letter like this one
January 29, 2013 § 2 Comments
In June of 1971, just days before his 26-year-old son, Michale got married, future-U.S. President Ronald Reagan sent him the following letter of advice. It really is quite stunning.
Manhattan Beach, California
Enclosed is the item I mentioned (with which goes a torn up IOU). I could stop here but I won’t.
You’ve heard all the jokes that have been rousted around by all the “unhappy marrieds” and cynics. Now, in case no one has suggested it, there is another viewpoint. You have entered into the most meaningful relationship there is in all human life. It can be whatever you decide to make it.
Some men feel their masculinity can only be proven if they play out in their own life all the locker-room stories, smugly confident that what a wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her. The truth is, somehow, way down inside, without her ever finding lipstick on the collar or catching a man in the flimsy excuse of where he was till three A.M., a wife does know, and with that knowing, some of the magic of this relationship disappears. There are more men griping about marriage who kicked the whole thing away themselves than there can ever be wives deserving of blame. There is an old law of physics that you can only get out of a thing as much as you put in it. The man who puts into the marriage only half of what he owns will get that out. Sure, there will be moments when you will see someone or think back to an earlier time and you will be challenged to see if you can still make the grade, but let me tell you how really great is the challenge of proving your masculinity and charm with one woman for the rest of your life. Any man can find a twerp here and there who will go along with cheating, and it doesn’t take all that much manhood. It does take quite a man to remain attractive and to be loved by a woman who has heard him snore, seen him unshaven, tended him while he was sick and washed his dirty underwear. Do that and keep her still feeling a warm glow and you will know some very beautiful music. If you truly love a girl, you shouldn’t ever want her to feel, when she sees you greet a secretary or a girl you both know, that humiliation of wondering if she was someone who caused you to be late coming home, nor should you want any other woman to be able to meet your wife and know she was smiling behind her eyes as she looked at her, the woman you love, remembering this was the woman you rejected even momentarily for her favors.
Mike, you know better than many what an unhappy home is and what it can do to others. Now you have a chance to make it come out the way it should. There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.
P.S. You’ll never get in trouble if you say “I love you” at least once a day.
January 29, 2013 § 2 Comments
Dear Son Jack,
Well it has been some time since I received your fine letter. It makes me a bit proud and swelled up to get letters from five young fellows by the names of Charles, Mart, Frank, Sande, and Jack. The letters are so full of life, interest, ambition, and good fellowship. It fills my old heart with gladness and makes me feel ‘Bully.’ Well Jack I was glad to learn how you felt about your summer’s work & your coming school year. The secret of success is concentrating interest in life, interest in sports and good times, interest in your studies, interest in your fellow students, interest in the small things of nature, insects, birds, flowers, leaves, etc. In other words to be fully awake to everything about you & the more you learn the more you can appreciate & get a full measure of joy & happiness out of life. I do not think a young fellow should be too serious, he should be full of the Dickens some times to create a balance.
I think your philosophy on religion is okay. I think every person should think, act & believe according to the dictates of his own conscience without too much pressure from the outside. I too think there is a higher power, a supreme force, a governor, a something that controls the universe. What it is & in what form I do not know. It may be that our intellect or spirit exists in space in some other form after it parts from this body. Nothing is impossible and we know that nothing is destroyed, it only changes chemically. We burn up a house and its contents, we change the form but the same elements exist; gas, vapor, ashes. They are all there just the same.
I had a couple of letters from mother the other day, one written the twelfth and one the fifteenth. Am always glad to get letters from your mother, she is a Dear isn’t she? Your mother and I have been a complete failure financially but if the boys turn out to be good and useful citizens nothing else matters and we know this is happening so why not be jubilant?
The weather up here couldn’t be beat, but I suppose it won’t last always, in fact we are looking forward to some snowstorms and an excuse to come back to the orange belt. I do not know anything about what I will do or if I will have a job when I leave here, but I am not worrying about it because it is no use to worry about what you can’t help, or what you can help, moral ‘don’t worry.’
Write and tell me all about your schoolwork and yourself in general. I will appreciate your confidence.
You no doubt had some hard days on your job at Crestline this summer. I can imagine the steep climbing, the hot weather, etc. But those hard things are what builds character and physic. Well Jack I presume by the time you have read all this you will be mentally fatigued and will need to relax. So goodnight, pleasant dreams and God bless you.
Your affectionate Dad
January 27, 2013 § 3 Comments
Let’s talk about shagging for a moment. It shouldn’t be too hard (no, don’t excuse the pun) for us to talk about this subject matter. Not that you’re not constantly thinking about it anyway. So asking you to stop for a moment so that we can talk about it is a little redundant if you wish.
The major problem with sex is that it has been made to become some sort of performance. That the people involved must act as if they are members of a cast and pretend to enjoy things they don’t really enjoy doing because that’s what they see on TV, and teaching them how it should be best enjoyed.
That it is necessary for one to scream and shout to demonstrate how much one is enjoying themselves.
For all we know they might not even be enjoying it at all, but just to protect fragile male egos. Say “amen” ladies, or am I lying? I had lovely neighbours who screamed at the top of their lungs whenever they were engaged in sexual activity. When they broke up I remember the woman screaming at the man mocking his (for lack of a better word). “You sucked in bed; I faked it the whole time.” Ouch. I laughed. Perhaps she was saying to hurt his feelings or she was telling the truth. I’ll never know, they fought all the time anyway.
I write this to defend the most vilified position of all time. It is a position that is more vilified than some very questionable political positions. I don’t understand the vilification of the position as it still remains the world’s most popular by a mile.
It has several names in various other places of our wide globe. The Tuscans call it the “Angelic position”. Some Arabic speaking groups refer to missionary as “in the manner of serpents”. Perhaps we should adopt the term that some of these Arab groups use because it makes it sound a bit more dangerous and daring. Frankly, the term “missionary” isn’t very appealing, even to missionaries.
An urban legend has it that when the missionaries were on a mission to introduce tribes to the gospel in different places across the world, they found the natives engaging in all sorts of Kama Sutra like positions, then the missionaries taught these natives what has now become known as the missionary position. These are some of the questions I ask myself; were the missionaries spying on the locals to see how they engaged in procreation? And how did they teach them? Did they demonstrate? Anyway, this is an urban legend.
The missionary position appears in ancient works of the Japanese, the Greeks, the Romans, Indians to name a few. I’m sure if we looked hard enough we’d find some Bushmen cave drawings too with missionary. It has always been the most common sexual position through the history of the world.
As I was conducting my research asking my friends about this position they all initially mocked it. Then I vehemently defended it, and upon my defence, the truth came out. Most people actually like it. It is commonly acceptable to say any other position but the missionary position is one’s preference.
I spoke to various married couples who said that it is a very intimate position and is probably the one that is most appropriate for intercourse. It is the most comfortable; you can look into each other eyes and such wonderful things. The unmarried and single people I spoke to laughed at the missionary position the most until again, I defended it and then agreed that it is a very good if not one of the best.
In any case the missionary position was not some Anglo invention; surveys suggest it is, and no doubt always has been, a common sexual position in most of the world.
The phrase missionary position first appears in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1969 (excuse the pun in the year). Hippies who were just, well, being hippies invented the phrase “missionary position”. Now you know.
Sex is meant to be enjoyed, it’s not a performance, it’s not meant to impress. Having said that, I’m really pleased that my screaming, performing neighbours finally broke up.
January 20, 2013 § 2 Comments
Originally appeared on News24 column on 2011-01-25 08:26
I get really frustrated when I hear black people applaud a black person for being the Best Black in a particular field. Now, I am not against black people excelling. They should. They must. And have to in every single sector of society. Yes, even surfing.
What do I mean by Best Black Syndrome? Best Black Syndrome is when a person of the melanin-advantaged persuasion achieves in a field that was previously the domain of the melanin-disadvantaged persuasion.
The black person somehow manages to be in the top five or top 10 and then we proceed to celebrate the person as if they are in fact number one. We start slaughtering sheep and cows and thanking our ancestors. Meanwhile, back at the ancestors’ cribs, they are shaking their heads and thinking, but you are not number one.
Let me differentiate between Best Black and First Black. I think First Black should be celebrated. It takes a lot to be the first anything. To be the first black person in a field which your kind didn’t have access to and wasn’t given opportunity to participate in is a big deal therefore that needs to be celebrated. The ones who come after should work to exceed the achievements of the First Black. They should strive to be number ones and not be happy with being number four.
Yes, we should sit back and acknowledge that it is an achievement, but not make a big deal out of it, there is still the number one spot that needs you to occupy it. Best Black allows one to be complacent. It makes you think your only competition is other melanin advantaged brothers and sister. That is setting low standards of the highest order.
This means taking responsibility for our own little areas. We will make mistakes as we learn, drop balls here and there, but all that is done in the quest to be the best. We must try to perfect what we do every day and by doing that, we earn our own self-respect and consequently, the respect of others.
My personal motto wasn’t my motto when I first said it to a friend, it was only later that I realised I had said something pretty profound, if I say so myself. As the days went by I knew that it was a good one to live by precisely because it was such a difficult one to live by.
The motto? “It’s better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low.” If you aimed low and succeed, you just succeeded at failing – failing yourself. That is the worst kind of failure. One of the greatest tragedies in life is being so used to failing yourself and to low standards that you no longer recognise it when you have failed yourself.
It is in this respect that I say that being the Best Black is not a good standard. The gold standard, make that the platinum standard, is being the best. Simple.
Barack Obama, in a Father’s Day Speech in 2008 before he became president, spoke to a black church addressing black issues.“We need to set high expectations for ourselves,” he said.
He confronted the black community for saying that a black man couldn’t be president when he started running. “We didn’t set high enough expectations for ourselves. We believe that someone else can do it but we can’t.” Many were just satisfied with him trying; the possibility of him winning was beyond them.
We should not set low expectations for ourselves. When we set high personal standards we set high standards for the country. It’s something that becomes bigger than just an individual standard, it becomes a cause. When we set low expectations for ourselves, we do the same for the country. That’s how it is.
We should not be surprised when a black person achieves the number one spot, the best portfolio manager in the country, best advocate, best marketer, whatever it is. Why? To be the best who happens to be black.
Discipline and dedication
The best anything means hard work, discipline and dedication. Apart from that, when we get to high positions and achieve in our chosen fields, it will be out of pure merit and no one will accuse us of getting positions because of the colour of our skins – even if that was a factor. Let’s get great, but happen to be black.
It should be expected that black people excel in every sphere so that we can get to hold these positions of authority and control the top companies in the JSE. Right now, 89% of the top companies have white CEOs. It’s not going happen overnight. We have got to work hard to get to the top. Especially for those of us with no political connections. Hard work is the only way my dark friends.
In the words of one of my all time Nike favourite ads, “You don’t win silver, you lose gold.” It’s about winning. It’s about being first.
However, don’t compromise your principles just to be first. In the end, when you compromise to win, you lose yourself. There is no greater loss than losing yourself.
That is all. As you were.
January 17, 2013 § 3 Comments
Originally appeared on my News24 column on 2011-03-15 13:35
I went to visit my uncle the other day because he wanted to see my new car. He went in and did what any normal older black person would do. He prayed for my car and my protection and continued prosperity. It was all lovely.
Then we went to the house where I was told that now the next thing I need to do is to find a wife. My aunt and uncle have been married for almost forty years now. They are both sixty.
They sat me down. I was offered biscuits. Choice Assorted. Although they have a large property somewhere in Johannesburg, they are still deeply rooted in the traditions of yesteryear. And oh yes, Oros was also included which my aunt got from something that resembled a room divider. It wasn’t one, but it was pretty close to looking like one.
My aunt and my uncle are that sickening couple that is still deeply in love after so many years of marriage. I remember my aunt starring at my uncle not too long ago, smiling. Then she said out of the blue, “Kodwa my husband is hot.”
I laughed, he laughed and said, “Enkosi Thando.” They don’t call each other by name. They say, “thando”. Thando is love in Xhosa. They are the most affectionate couple I’ve ever known in my life. Ever since I can remember that’s what they called each other.
No public displays of affection
Black couples back then didn’t show affection in public. I think many young people can attest to that. They never really saw their parents being openly affectionate. It was almost as if they were in the closet with their affections. I reckon as young black folks we should try not to emulate our parents in that department.
“If she has no respect for your parents while you’re dating, she’ll make for a lousy wife.” That’s what my aunt said. “If akamboni umzala, myeke mntanam.” If she has no time for your parents she’s not for you my child.
Then my uncle interjected: “Your mother would always say to me, why are you always dumping these pretty girls? They had no idea why I was doing it. I was checking them out. Checking out their behaviour. How they spoke to my parents. If they didn’t ndirhoxe (I stepped back).”
“If she puts your mother down, she’ll put you down. When the woman closest to you puts you down, nothing can get you up.” You can’t let that happen. Marriage isn’t easy; you can’t afford to make it difficult before it happens.
My aunt then said, “If you bring her here to our house, it’s easy for her to like us. It is a nice house. Now take her back home, where everything is not so cosy, if her attitude suddenly changes, she’s not right tu mnta nam. Myeke!” She said.
A woman of character
Then my uncle said, “The most important thing is to pray to find a good wife before you find her. With your current generation – you really need to.” They told me that prayer is important. Then they told me that my generation doesn’t think that prayer is cool, “But find a praying a woman. But you must also be a praying man.” Black parents are strong believers in prayer.
“She must be a woman of character. Some women think that looking good and driving expensive cars is character. Lack of character soon makes a beautiful woman ugly.” I couldn’t have agreed with them more. Then my uncle said, “You can’t expect her to be a woman of character if you have none.”
“If she is not supportive of your ventures, stay away; she will break your spirit and you will resent her.” They told me that there is nothing more disheartening than not having a partner who will not support you, who will try to break your dreams as opposed to encouraging them and then pushing you when you are too lazy to pursue them. “She can’t just be happy to love you and that you love her, she must kick your butt!”
“She must challenge your thinking and you grow. She can’t be a yes-woman.” Those were the words of my uncle. You won’t get anywhere if your wife says yes to everything. She must challenge you so that when you speak to her about a new venture, she knows that you have a plan.
A considerate woman
“If she was the village bicycle in her youth, you might want to stay away from her. Bamoshakele abantwana banamhlanje.” When they said that, I held back a bit of laughter because I really didn’t expect them to say that to me. What many people don’t realise is that the actions of their youth usually have repercussions in their future. They think they were having fun, but that kind of fun has a price. “But then again your generation does things in ways foreign to ours.”
“If she is not considerate, stay away. Myeke mntanam!” Being considerate seems like such a small thing, but it is a big thing when you think about the number of years you will end up with this person because that is the plan, to spend forever with this person. So you have to think about these things. That’s what they told me.
“If her aim is to isolate you from everyone else, stay away. A marriage is also about how you interact with others.” They told me that a marriage is about the community. It’s not just about the two of you. Your marriage will soon be frustrating if you live in isolation.
“You must respect her in every way. You can’t be a husband to someone you don’t’ respect.” I nodded profusely.
“Don’t expect her to be all these things if you are not those things yourself.” My uncle drove this point home. His advice was that many men rattle a list of what they want but they never ask themselves if they deserve the kind of person they want.
Am I all these things? It seems it’s going to be a while before I get married then uncle and aunt.
January 17, 2013 § 1 Comment
Loving Your Enemies.
by Martin Luther King, Jr.
The following sermon was delivered at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, at Christmas, 1957. Martin Luther King wrote it whi1e in jail far committing nonviolent civil disobedience during the Montgomery bus boycott. Let us be practical and ask the question. How do we love our enemies?
I am forced to preach under something of a handicap this morning. In fact, I had the doctor before coming to church. And he said that it would be best for me to stay in the bed this morning. And I insisted that I would have to come to preach. So he allowed me to come out with one stipulation, and that is that I would not come in the pulpit until time to preach, and that after, that I would immediately go back home and get in the bed. So I’m going to try to follow his instructions from that point on.
I want to use as a subject from which to preach this morning a very familiar subject, and it is familiar to you because I have preached from this subject twice before to my knowing in this pulpit. I try to make it a, something of a custom or tradition to preach from this passage of Scripture at least once a year, adding new insights that I develop along the way out of new experiences as I give these messages. Although the content is, the basic content is the same, new insights and new experiences naturally make for new illustrations.
So I want to turn your attention to this subject: “Loving Your Enemies.” It’s so basic to me because it is a part of my basic philosophical and theological orientation—the whole idea of love, the whole philosophy of love. In the fifth chapter of the gospel as recorded by Saint Matthew, we read these very arresting words flowing from the lips of our Lord and Master: “Ye have heard that it has been said, ‘Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”
Certainly these are great words, words lifted to cosmic proportions. And over the centuries, many persons have argued that this is an extremely difficult command. Many would go so far as to say that it just isn’t possible to move out into the actual practice of this glorious command. They would go on to say that this is just additional proof that Jesus was an impractical idealist who never quite came down to earth. So the arguments abound. But far from being an impractical idealist, Jesus has become the practical realist. The words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency. Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.
Now let me hasten to say that Jesus was very serious when he gave this command; he wasn’t playing. He realized that it’s hard to love your enemies. He realized that it’s difficult to love those persons who seek to defeat you, those persons who say evil things about you. He realized that it was painfully hard, pressingly hard. But he wasn’t playing. And we cannot dismiss this passage as just another example of Oriental hyperbole, just a sort of exaggeration to get over the point. This is a basic philosophy of all that we hear coming from the lips of our Master. Because Jesus wasn’t playing; because he was serious. We have the Christian and moral responsibility to seek to discover the meaning of these words, and to discover how we can live out this command, and why we should live by this command.
Now first let us deal with this question, which is the practical question: How do you go about loving your enemies? I think the first thing is this: In order to love your enemies, you must begin by analyzing self. And I’m sure that seems strange to you, that I start out telling you this morning that you love your enemies by beginning with a look at self. It seems to me that that is the first and foremost way to come to an adequate discovery to the how of this situation.
Now, I’m aware of the fact that some people will not like you, not because of something you have done to them, but they just won’t like you. I’m quite aware of that. Some people aren’t going to like the way you walk; some people aren’t going to like the way you talk. Some people aren’t going to like you because you can do your job better than they can do theirs. Some people aren’t going to like you because other people like you, and because you’re popular, and because you’re well-liked, they aren’t going to like you. Some people aren’t going to like you because your hair is a little shorter than theirs or your hair is a little longer than theirs. Some people aren’t going to like you because your skin is a little brighter than theirs; and others aren’t going to like you because your skin is a little darker than theirs. So that some people aren’t going to like you. They’re going to dislike you, not because of something that you’ve done to them, but because of various jealous reactions and other reactions that are so prevalent in human nature.
But after looking at these things and admitting these things, we must face the fact that an individual might dislike us because of something that we’ve done deep down in the past, some personality attribute that we possess, something that we’ve done deep down in the past and we’ve forgotten about it; but it was that something that aroused the hate response within the individual. That is why I say, begin with yourself. There might be something within you that arouses the tragic hate response in the other individual.
This is true in our international struggle. We look at the struggle, the ideological struggle between communism on the one hand and democracy on the other, and we see the struggle between America and Russia. Now certainly, we can never give our allegiance to the Russian way of life, to the communistic way of life, because communism is based on an ethical relativism and a metaphysical materialism that no Christian can accept. When we look at the methods of communism, a philosophy where somehow the end justifies the means, we cannot accept that because we believe as Christians that the end is pre-existent in the means. But in spite of all of the weaknesses and evils inherent in communism, we must at the same time see the weaknesses and evils within democracy.
Democracy is the greatest form of government to my mind that man has ever conceived, but the weakness is that we have never touched it. Isn’t it true that we have often taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes? Isn’t it true that we have often in our democracy trampled over individuals and races with the iron feet of oppression? Isn’t it true that through our Western powers we have perpetuated colonialism and imperialism? And all of these things must be taken under consideration as we look at Russia. We must face the fact that the rhythmic beat of the deep rumblings of discontent from Asia and Africa is at bottom a revolt against the imperialism and colonialism perpetuated by Western civilization all these many years. The success of communism in the world today is due to the failure of democracy to live up to the noble ideals and principles inherent in its system.
And this is what Jesus means when he said: “How is it that you can see the mote in your brother’s eye and not see the beam in your own eye?” Or to put it in Moffatt’s translation: “How is it that you see the splinter in your brother’s eye and fail to see the plank in your own eye?” And this is one of the tragedies of human nature. So we begin to love our enemies and love those persons that hate us whether in collective life or individual life by looking at ourselves.
A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and everytime you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points.
I’ve said to you on many occasions that each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality. We’re split up and divided against ourselves. And there is something of a civil war going on within all of our lives. There is a recalcitrant South of our soul revolting against the North of our soul. And there is this continual struggle within the very structure of every individual life. There is something within all of us that causes us to cry out with Ovid, the Latin poet, “I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do.” There is something within all of us that causes us to cry out with Plato that the human personality is like a charioteer with two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in different directions. There is something within each of us that causes us to cry out with Goethe, “There is enough stuff in me to make both a gentleman and a rogue.” There is something within each of us that causes us to cry out with Apostle Paul, “I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do.”
So somehow the “isness” of our present nature is out of harmony with the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts us. And this simply means this: That within the best of us, there is some evil, and within the worst of us, there is some good. When we come to see this, we take a different attitude toward individuals. The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it. And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls “the image of God,” you begin to love him in spite of. No matter what he does, you see God’s image there. There is an element of goodness that he can never sluff off. Discover the element of good in your enemy. And as you seek to hate him, find the center of goodness and place your attention there and you will take a new attitude.
Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must not do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.
The Greek language, as I’ve said so often before, is very powerful at this point. It comes to our aid beautifully in giving us the real meaning and depth of the whole philosophy of love. And I think it is quite apropos at this point, for you see the Greek language has three words for love, interestingly enough. It talks about love as eros. That’s one word for love. Eros is a sort of, aesthetic love. Plato talks about it a great deal in his dialogues, a sort of yearning of the soul for the realm of the gods. And it’s come to us to be a sort of romantic love, though it’s a beautiful love. Everybody has experienced eros in all of its beauty when you find some individual that is attractive to you and that you pour out all of your like and your love on that individual. That is eros, you see, and it’s a powerful, beautiful love that is given to us through all of the beauty of literature; we read about it.
Then the Greek language talks about philia, and that’s another type of love that’s also beautiful. It is a sort of intimate affection between personal friends. And this is the type of love that you have for those persons that you’re friendly with, your intimate friends, or people that you call on the telephone and you go by to have dinner with, and your roommate in college and that type of thing. It’s a sort of reciprocal love. On this level, you like a person because that person likes you. You love on this level, because you are loved. You love on this level, because there’s something about the person you love that is likeable to you. This too is a beautiful love. You can communicate with a person; you have certain things in common; you like to do things together. This is philia.
The Greek language comes out with another word for love. It is the word agape. And agape is more than eros; agape is more than philia; agape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men. And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them. You look at every man, and you love him because you know God loves him. And he might be the worst person you’ve ever seen.
And this is what Jesus means, I think, in this very passage when he says, “Love your enemy.” And it’s significant that he does not say, “Like your enemy.” Like is a sentimental something, an affectionate something. There are a lot of people that I find it difficult to like. I don’t like what they do to me. I don’t like what they say about me and other people. I don’t like their attitudes. I don’t like some of the things they’re doing. I don’t like them. But Jesus says love them. And love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all men, so that you love everybody, because God loves them. You refuse to do anything that will defeat an individual, because you have agape in your soul. And here you come to the point that you love the individual who does the evil deed, while hating the deed that the person does. This is what Jesus means when he says, “Love your enemy.” This is the way to do it. When the opportunity presents itself when you can defeat your enemy, you must not do it.
Now for the few moments left, let us move from the practical how to the theoretical why. It’s not only necessary to know how to go about loving your enemies, but also to go down into the question of why we should love our enemies. I think the first reason that we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of Jesus’ thinking, is this: that hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. [tapping on pulpit] It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love.
I think I mentioned before that sometime ago my brother and I were driving one evening to Chattanooga, Tennessee, from Atlanta. He was driving the car. And for some reason the drivers were very discourteous that night. They didn’t dim their lights; hardly any driver that passed by dimmed his lights. And I remember very vividly, my brother A. D. looked over and in a tone of anger said: “I know what I’m going to do. The next car that comes along here and refuses to dim the lights, I’m going to fail to dim mine and pour them on in all of their power.” And I looked at him right quick and said: “Oh no, don’t do that. There’d be too much light on this highway, and it will end up in mutual destruction for all. Somebody got to have some sense on this highway.”
Somebody must have sense enough to dim the lights, and that is the trouble, isn’t it? That as all of the civilizations of the world move up the highway of history, so many civilizations, having looked at other civilizations that refused to dim the lights, and they decided to refuse to dim theirs. And Toynbee tells that out of the twenty-two civilizations that have risen up, all but about seven have found themselves in the junkheap of destruction. It is because civilizations fail to have sense enough to dim the lights. And if somebody doesn’t have sense enough to turn on the dim and beautiful and powerful lights of love in this world, the whole of our civilization will be plunged into the abyss of destruction. And we will all end up destroyed because nobody had any sense on the highway of history. Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.
There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. We usually think of what hate does for the individual hated or the individuals hated or the groups hated. But it is even more tragic, it is even more ruinous and injurious to the individual who hates. You just begin hating somebody, and you will begin to do irrational things. You can’t see straight when you hate. You can’t walk straight when you hate. You can’t stand upright. Your vision is distorted. There is nothing more tragic than to see an individual whose heart is filled with hate. He comes to the point that he becomes a pathological case. For the person who hates, you can stand up and see a person and that person can be beautiful, and you will call them ugly. For the person who hates, the beautiful becomes ugly and the ugly becomes beautiful. For the person who hates, the good becomes bad and the bad becomes good. For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true. That’s what hate does. You can’t see right. The symbol of objectivity is lost. Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater. And this is why Jesus says hate
. . . that you want to be integrated with yourself, and the way to be integrated with yourself is be sure that you meet every situation of life with an abounding love. Never hate, because it ends up in tragic, neurotic responses. Psychologists and psychiatrists are telling us today that the more we hate, the more we develop guilt feelings and we begin to subconsciously repress or consciously suppress certain emotions, and they all stack up in our subconscious selves and make for tragic, neurotic responses.
And may this not be the neuroses of many individuals as they confront life that that is an element of hate there. And modern psychology is calling on us now to love. But long before modern psychology came into being, the world’s greatest psychologist who walked around the hills of Galilee told us to love. He looked at men and said: “Love your enemies; don’t hate anybody.” It’s not enough for us to hate your friends because—to to love your friends—because when you start hating anybody, it destroys the very center of your creative response to life and the universe; so love everybody. Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence. It is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life. So Jesus says love, because hate destroys the hater as well as the hated.
Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with bitterness because they’re mad because you love them like that. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.
I think of one of the best examples of this. We all remember the great president of this United States, Abraham Lincoln—these United States rather. You remember when Abraham Lincoln was running for president of the United States, there was a man who ran all around the country talking about Lincoln. He said a lot of bad things about Lincoln, a lot of unkind things. And sometimes he would get to the point that he would even talk about his looks, saying, “You don’t want a tall, lanky, ignorant man like this as the president of the United States.” He went on and on and on and went around with that type of attitude and wrote about it.
Finally, one day Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States. And if you read the great biography of Lincoln, if you read the great works about him, you will discover that as every president comes to the point, he came to the point of having to choose a Cabinet. And then came the time for him to choose a Secretary of War. He looked across the nation, and decided to choose a man by the name of Mr. Stanton. And when Abraham Lincoln stood around his advisors and mentioned this fact, they said to him: “Mr. Lincoln, are you a fool? Do you know what Mr. Stanton has been saying about you? Do you know what he has done, tried to do to you? Do you know that he has tried to defeat you on every hand? Do you know that, Mr. Lincoln? Did you read all of those derogatory statements that he made about you?” Abraham Lincoln stood before the advisors around him and said: “Oh yes, I know about it; I read about it; I’ve heard him myself. But after looking over the country, I find that he is the best man for the job.”
Mr. Stanton did become Secretary of War, and a few months later, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. And if you go to Washington, you will discover that one of the greatest words or statements ever made by, about Abraham Lincoln was made about this man Stanton. And as Abraham Lincoln came to the end of his life, Stanton stood up and said: “Now he belongs to the ages.” And he made a beautiful statement concerning the character and the stature of this man. If Abraham Lincoln had hated Stanton, if Abraham Lincoln had answered everything Stanton said, Abraham Lincoln would have not transformed and redeemed Stanton. Stanton would have gone to his grave hating Lincoln, and Lincoln would have gone to his grave hating Stanton. But through the power of love Abraham Lincoln was able to redeem Stanton.
That’s it. There is a power in love that our world has not discovered yet. Jesus discovered it centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi of India discovered it a few years ago, but most men and most women never discover it. For they believe in hitting for hitting; they believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; they believe in hating for hating; but Jesus comes to us and says, “This isn’t the way.”
And oh this morning, as I think of the fact that our world is in transition now. Our whole world is facing a revolution. Our nation is facing a revolution, our nation. One of the things that concerns me most is that in the midst of the revolution of the world and the midst of the revolution of this nation, that we will discover the meaning of Jesus’ words.
History unfortunately leaves some people oppressed and some people oppressors. And there are three ways that individuals who are oppressed can deal with their oppression. One of them is to rise up against their oppressors with physical violence and corroding hatred. But oh this isn’t the way. For the danger and the weakness of this method is its futility. Violence creates many more social problems than it solves. And I’ve said, in so many instances, that as the Negro, in particular, and colored peoples all over the world struggle for freedom, if they succumb to the temptation of using violence in their struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. Violence isn’t the way.
Another way is to acquiesce and to give in, to resign yourself to the oppression. Some people do that. They discover the difficulties of the wilderness moving into the promised land, and they would rather go back to the despots of Egypt because it’s difficult to get in the promised land. And so they resign themselves to the fate of oppression; they somehow acquiesce to this thing. But that too isn’t the way because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.
But there is another way. And that is to organize mass non-violent resistance based on the principle of love. It seems to me that this is the only way as our eyes look to the future. As we look out across the years and across the generations, let us develop and move right here. We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way. Jesus discovered that.
Not only did Jesus discover it, even great military leaders discover that. One day as Napoleon came toward the end of his career and looked back across the years—the great Napoleon that at a very early age had all but conquered the world. He was not stopped until he became, till he moved out to the battle of Leipzig and then to Waterloo. But that same Napoleon one day stood back and looked across the years, and said: “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have built great empires. But upon what did they depend? They depended upon force. But long ago Jesus started an empire that depended on love, and even to this day millions will die for him.”
Yes, I can see Jesus walking around the hills and the valleys of Palestine. And I can see him looking out at the Roman Empire with all of her fascinating and intricate military machinery. But in the midst of that, I can hear him saying: “I will not use this method. Neither will I hate the Roman Empire.”
[Radio Announcer:] (WRMA, Montgomery, Alabama. Due to the fact of the delay this morning, we are going over with the sermon.) [several words inaudible]
. . and just start marching.
And I’m proud to stand here in Dexter this morning and say that that army is still marching. It grew up from a group of eleven or twelve men to more than seven hundred million today. Because of the power and influence of the personality of this Christ, he was able to split history into a.d. and b.c. Because of his power, he was able to shake the hinges from the gates of the Roman Empire. And all around the world this morning, we can hear the glad echo of heaven ring:
Jesus shall reign wherever sun,
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom spreads from shore to shore,
Till moon shall wane and wax no more.
We can hear another chorus singing: “All hail the power of Jesus name!”
We can hear another chorus singing: “Hallelujah, hallelujah!
He’s King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah, hallelujah!”
We can hear another choir singing:
In Christ there is no East or West.
In Him no North or South,
But one great Fellowship of Love
Throughout the whole wide world.
This is the only way.
And our civilization must discover that. Individuals must discover that as they deal with other individuals. There is a little tree planted on a little hill and on that tree hangs the most influential character that ever came in this world. But never feel that that tree is a meaningless drama that took place on the stages of history. Oh no, it is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity, and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder to a power-drunk generation that love is the only way. It is an eternal reminder to a generation depending on nuclear and atomic energy, a generation depending on physical violence, that love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe.
So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” And I’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed. And then we will be in God’s kingdom. We will be able to matriculate into the university of eternal life because we had the power to love our enemies, to bless those persons that cursed us, to even decide to be good to those persons who hated us, and we even prayed for those persons who despitefully used us.
Oh God, help us in our lives and in all of our attitudes, to work out this controlling force of love, this controlling power that can solve every problem that we confront in all areas. Oh, we talk about politics; we talk about the problems facing our atomic civilization. Grant that all men will come together and discover that as we solve the crisis and solve these problems—the international problems, the problems of atomic energy, the problems of nuclear energy, and yes, even the race problem—let us join together in a great fellowship of love and bow down at the feet of Jesus. Give us this strong determination. In the name and spirit of this Christ, we pray. Amen.
January 14, 2013 § 1 Comment
January 13, 2013 § 2 Comments
Originally appeared on my News24 column; 2012-03-02 07:37
Dear African National Congress,
I feel like you unfriended me on Facebook and then put it up on your status update so that everyone knows the cruel thing you have you done. You have no shame! Actually, I can even think of a worse example. It’s like we were very much in love. So in love in fact that our relationship status updates said, “The African National Congress is in a relationship with Julius Malema.”
Now your relationship status update says, “The African National Congress is no longer in a relationship with Julius Malema.” Do you know how embarrassing this is? Everyone can see it! Plus there is that dreaded broken red heart thing there. And I simply cannot believe that there are 23 034 people who have clicked “like” under my broken heart! Like! They clicked the like button! They are all bloody agents! The lot of them!
You bloody agents have kicked me out of your revolutionary house! Like a thing! As if I have rubbish in my trouser! Comrade Thabo Mbeki would never have done this to me! Viva Thabo Mbeki viva!
I called him worse names than the Shower man while he was president, yet he did not see it fit for me to face a disciplinary hearing because he realised that we are still children who are in need of learning and schooling. Although truth be told, we actually schooled him by kicking him out of the presidency – and look at the price I am paying now. He is still one of the best ANC presidents we have ever had. Viva president Thabo Mbeki viva!
The Shower man is trying very hard to extinguish the fire in the belly of the youth. In fact, the shower is un-African because there is no word for it in Pedi
It has to be said that it is rather weird that I used to say that there are no guaranteed or permanent positions in the ANC – I used to say that as a threat to the president of the ANC. Ironically, I lost my position first! What kind of muti is that man using? Much force this one’s muthi has. Learn from him, I must. My own personal Yoda of muthi I need.
I’m so bitter right now that I have a good mind to beat up those tjatjarag National Disciplinary Committee members with a plank from one of my woodwork pieces, which were somehow never appreciated. In all fairness, my woodwork results and my other marks should never have been released. However, I suspect that some agents from the West were responsible.
Yes, I do have some moments of self-doubt now. Did I do the right thing? Should I have stuck to my guns? It made a lot of sense to me to be defiant because the president of this organisation once compared me to another great revolutionary, Nelson Mandela. He said that Mandela was also rebellious when he was defending me. I should have known that was a launch.
But in all honesty, I am sorry, but I will never repeat this on a public platform. My life won’t be the same. You may have rejected me but I am still in love with the ANC. I know that I may seem desperate but the only thing I am desperate for is your love.
Maybe I should stop blaming others for my actions.
Maybe I should take responsibility.
Maybe I should think back and re-evaluate my life.
Maybe I should apologise to those who saw potential in me, I didn’t mean to disappoint you.
Maybe I should say sorry. Maybe I will.
Even though you have rejected me ANC, I am still in love with you.
In the words of Adele:
“I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited
But I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t fight it.
I had hoped you’d see my face and that you’d be reminded
That for me it isn’t over.
“Never mind, I’ll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you too
Don’t forget me, I beg
I remember you said,
‘Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead,
Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead’”
I know I sound stalkerish and unstable but you’ve got to understand that I’m hurt right now. You’re bloody agents but I still love you ANC. Love live the spirit of the ANC even though you have rejected one of your own.
January 13, 2013 § 2 Comments
If you want to know me a little better, here is an interview conducted by Divas Inc, This is the link to the original interview. The original interview has pictures too. Click here to go that one instead or carry on reading here
Stimulating conversation, some introspection, a lot of good laughs, a sprinkling of some cringe worthy revelations and a bird’s eye view on the world – that’s what my morning with Khaya Dlanga yields. Patriarch of the ‘Towners’ and one of South Africa’s most outrageously opinionated columnists, Khaya is also one of the smartest and funniest people you’ll ever meet. Currently the Senior Communications Manager for Coca Cola South Africa, with an advertising resume that boasts of brands with a lot of clout the likes of Virgin, Nandos, Hyundai, 1LifeDirect, Musica and an array of awards to back up his reputation as one of the best in the industry, Khaya is an inspiration. But unlike Oprah or Bill Gates, he’s an ‘inspiration’ you also want to take home to meet the parents. As one of the Divas Inc team members so aptly put it – ‘A ‘sexy’ mind – that’s the magic of Khaya Dlanga’
Ok, 1st off, just to break the ice, can you give us a glimpse into who Khaya Dlanga is?
I honestly never know how to answer that question (laughs)
Why not? You’ve lived with yourself for quite a while now so if anyone should know, it’s you.
I don’t know what the question means. Do I talk about where I’m from? Do I talk about where I was born or how I was raised? I never know where to start.
Ok let’s talk about who Khaya is now and we can go back to Khaya growing up later on. Who is Khaya the man today?
Who am I? I think even now I’m still trying to figure that out. I’m still trying to answer that question. I do have an idea but I think it’s very difficult for me to try and put that into words and say ‘This is Khaya Dlanga’ today. I’m a very complex guy, I do know this. There are many facets to me that I just cannot verbalise.
Let’s start from the beginning then and talk about Khaya the young boy. What kind of child were you growing up?
I was a good child but I was also a bad child (laughs)…
So the complexity started when you were a kid I see?
Yeah (laughs) I did all the things expected of me then. For example, I grew up with my grandmother and she raised me till I was about 9 when she passed away, and because of her I didn’t swear growing up and up till today I cannot bring myself to doing it. But in the same breath, I started bunking school from as early as 9years old and I had been smoking weed by the time I was 10 and was getting high on petrol fumes… so I guess that kind of cancelled out the not swearing bit (laughs) But I must say overall I was a pretty decent child and my mom every now and then always says how proud she is of how I’ve turned out.
Yeah, I’m sure. Especially for a guy who was smoking up petrol fumes by10…
Yeah, absolutely (Laughs) I’ve turned out ok.
When did this love for words and expressing yourself through word start? What gave birth to the ‘opinionated Khaya’ we all know today?
My love for words really started when my mother started forcing me to read. I was probably around 11 at that time…
So you were reading when you were high…?
(Laughs) Oh no. I’d quit by then. I’d kicked my habit by the time I was 11. So I started reading and I hated it at first because my mother was ‘making’ me do it. I remember they were these short stories by Alan Paton that she made me read and I became an insatiable reader from then on. I spent so much time in the library when I was in school and after school I’d go to the town library just so I could read. And If I didn’t feel like going to the library I’d go to CNA where I’d read magazines and books. I’d just read. When I was in Standard 7 our teacher made us write an essay about a building that was collapsing – an implosion- and we were meant to describe it as it was happening – the smells, the sounds, the dust, everything – and I was just like ‘this is so cool’ . I wrote that and I did really really well at it and I remember thinking to myself ‘I think I really like this writing thing’. So then when I was in Standard 8 or 9, I can’t remember – It’s a long time ago (laughs)- my English teacher then – and this was a time when we had very few blacks in these schools , I think we were only 2 in my class- she was still new and she made us write an essay and at the end of the week she was giving us back our graded essays but she didn’t give me back mine so I was like ‘What the hell?’ I go to her desk and she’s like ‘Did you write this?’ and I say that I did and she’s like ‘Ok, what does this word mean?’ and I told her what it meant then she picked another word and another one and by the time we got to the 3rd word I was just like ‘Excuse me, but if you’d actually done your homework you’d know I constantly get the highest marks when it comes to creative writing in this class’…
Aah. So this was one of your very 1st ‘Excuse me, but in my ‘arrogant opinion’ moments…
(Laughs) In all seriousness – It was really not because I was being arrogant. It was because I was offended by what her actions implied. Her actions implied ‘How can you know all this and write so well when you’re black’ so I told her I had actually got the highest marks in our last exam. She asked me what that was and I told her to look at the marks and see for herself which she did and she gave me the same exact mark. That was actually pretty annoying – but yeah – that’s the story of me and my early writing years. It was a traumatic beginning (laughs)
So you love to read and you absolutely love to write but what were the dreams and aspirations for Khaya back then? What did you want to become?
You know – I think as a kid sometimes you say you want to do something but the question is ‘is that really what you want to do or are you just saying it because that’s what’s expected of you. I grew up in a very rural setting and I remember I used to say that I wanted to be a cop or I wanted to be a soldier because there were no other options for me. I didn’t know any other options besides those. And I‘ll never forget because there were a lot of people that would come from the rural areas to work in the mines in Joburg and that was almost set as a high aspiration for us where it was like ‘Be strong now then at least you can go and work in the mines’ so if you picked up a heavy object or something like that; that was what was always said. So where I grew up, one’s aspirations were always very very low because that’s all people knew. I think subconsciously I always thought I would end up working in the mines – even though I didn’t want to. They tried to sell it to me and make it into this glamorous thing but I knew it wasn’t. To be honest, I didn’t know what I really wanted to be and it was only in Standard 8 that I knew. I knew then I wanted to do advertising.
Ok, so you finish school and you have this huge dream of getting into advertising but this is set against a backdrop where you either became a cop, a soldier or a mine worker. How do you make it happen?
Wow. I came from a very challenged background. I was raised by a single mother – my father passed when I was about 4 or5 and my mom took me back to East London to live with her after my grandmother died. You know the typical 4 roomed house in the townships? We actually shared it with another family so one section was theirs and the other half was ours. Because of the situation, I had to sleep in the kitchen with my brother and my mom and my sister would be in the one bedroom. And I remember being very embarrassed because I went to a good school and I’d never invite my friends to my house because I didn’t want them to see where I stayed. We didn’t even have electricity so for me it was just like ‘I‘ll never embarrass myself like that’. And I remember when I was in school I always thought ‘ Am I actually ever going to be able to get out of this and do something with my life’ It was my dream to get into advertising but it seemed so unreachable because I knew my mother wouldn’t be able to afford it. She hadn’t worked for years and I remember for school trips I would never even tell her when there was one scheduled because I would rather get detention than have her feel insufficient because she couldn’t afford to pay for me go. I didn’t want to make her struggle any more than she already was.
After school, I wanted to go to AAA to study but I knew if I applied when everyone was applying around September they probably wouldn’t accept me because I wouldn’t have the money so I remember beginning of Feb the following year I had R500 to my name, I took a taxi from Mdantsane to Cape town, which was like R200 of the R500 – I didn’t know how I was going to live or where I was going to stay. I get there, ask where AAA is, I go there, still with my bag- which was small enough just in case things didn’t work out and I had to go back home – I get there, with my mom’s blessing because she had told me just find your way there and make it happen – I get to the receptionist and I ask her if they’re still accepting people and she tells me no and that they’d been turning down people every day who were coming in and taking chances. I ask to speak to someone and she calls the Registrar and I say ‘I sent my application last year and I never got a response – a rejection or acceptance. I’m not sure what happened’ which of course was a lie (laughs) but I had to find a way to get in and it worked. She was a bit taken aback so she gives me this thick book which you had to fill in when applying and I was familiar with it because I had helped my friend with his application. You probably needed like 2 weeks to fill this form in, she gives it to me and says ‘Come back Monday – 12pm is your deadline’ and I was just like ‘Oh My God, how am I going to do this.’ I literally slept for like 3hours that whole weekend and the rest of the time I was just writing and drawing and filling in everything. I get there Monday around 5 to 12 with my form and the lady is there and she’s having lunch and she gets my forms and she’s like ‘Come back in 5 minutes’ and I’m just thinking ‘There is no way she can go through all that in 5 minutes – she’s already decided she isn’t going to give me a chance’. I go back in 5 minutes and she hasn’t read it yet so she gives me another 5 minutes. I go back then and she’s going through my form now and she tells me to come back in 10minutes, then she says another 10 and another 10 after that…
Well, that was a good sign…
I didn’t even know that was a good sign then because I was just a whole bundle of nerves. Eventually I go back and she’s sitting with one of the Advertising lecturers now and she says ‘This is really really good. I must say I’m surprised. I didn’t expect this’. Then she asked how I was going to pay if I got in because I had indicated in the form that my mom wasn’t working. I knew my mom couldn’t afford it and I also knew they didn’t offer Bursaries so I’m like ‘Well, my mother has a property that she’s going to sell…’
Wow Khaya. Lie number 2 already …
(laughs) Well I had to sell myself and I was accepted. So what remained of the R500 I paid rent and I got some food and then got a job as a waiter. Things were going well for my first year but at the end of my second year I had to drop out. I will never forget this. I used to share my place with these guys and they had to leave and I wasn’t able to contribute to the rent on my own so the ‘digs’ had to be disbanded and I was just like’ What am I going to do now’. Because we were all ‘leaving’ the owner decided to renovate the flat and I didn’t have anywhere to go. So while it was being renovated, I took my suitcase and my clothes and left them at this church I used to go to – and every night I would go back to the flat because they didn’t lock up and I knew they wouldn’t come back at night, I’d clear all the rubble from the renovations and I’d sleep on the floor. I’d always sleep with all my clothes on in case someone came in and I had to run. I did this for over 2 weeks but one morning the guys came in early or I slept in too long, I don’t know – and I heard them open the door, I grabbed my bag and I ran out through the back door and obviously I never went back. And it was back to wondering ‘What am I gonna do now?’ I think part of it was also because I was just too proud to ask for help and tell people I knew that I was in this situation’. So my next best option was to sleep at AAA in my classroom. Advertising students work very hard and there’s always deadlines all the time so people would be studying up till 2 or 3 in the morning and it was torture because I was just like ‘Oh my God, Can’t you leave already’…
Yeah, like ‘This is my bedroom here’…..
(Laughs) Yes. When they eventually left I’d sleep on the desks and this went on for a while until one day- I used to do this youth thing on Fridays at church’ and my pastor used to drop me off afterwards – so one day he’s like ‘Why am I always dropping you off at school at this time of the night. What’s going on?’ – I tried feeding him some lies about deadlines and that but he didn’t buy any of it. And eventually I just broke down and I told him everything and he put me onto a YMCA type thing. But yeah, I had to drop out of school then because of all these financial issues. I was now working as a waiter and not going to school and every day I kept thinking’ I am not going to spend my whole life as a waiter’ so I decided I needed to make a statement if I was serious about getting into Advertising. I wrote a very funny -if I do say so myself (laughs) – CV which I then sent to this agency which was the most creative and most sought after agency in Cape Town at the time. I wrote all the standard personal details info and then I wrote in bullet point form – I can use phones, faxes and computers without breaking them; some of my best friends are white; I am NOT a member of COSATU …(laughs) In another section on ‘Position applied for’ I wrote Copywriter and on ‘Experience or Skills in this field’ I wrote ‘I used to write slogans on township walls “Free Mandela” and “One man one vote” and these were both very successful campaigns as you may already know’ When they gave me a call they were still laughing and they called me in for an interview and I got the job. That in a nutshell is how I got into advertising (laughs)
Looking back now, you’ve represented all these big brands and have had huge success in the advertising industry. Did you ever dream, back then, when you were sleeping on desks and on the floor, that you would get to this place?
NO. You know I always admire people that say when they were really down and out, they were so certain, even then, that they would get to wherever they’d set out to get to. For me it was not a matter of ‘This is a path I’ve set and I’ll achieve it no matter what’. It was a matter of ‘This situation will not defeat me’ I think that was it. It was a case of ‘I can overcome this’ and I think I was looking at it in that way. Even when I got the job it was still very difficult. It didn’t suddenly become a bed of roses. Again, very few black people in the industry and I was young so it was like I’m a junior and I’m black and I’m in Cape Town (laughs) It was tough and I can’t honestly say I knew things would pen out the way they did but what I did know was that things would get better and I think for me that’s what always drove me. As outrageous as I know I am at times, I’m a deeply spiritual person and there were these 2 verses in the Bible that I would always fall back on. The one was about Job and how he lost everything, and he was down and out and he’d lost all his wealth and then his servant comes to him and says ‘You’ve lost everything and now your children are also dead’ ’and Job tears away his garments and cries ‘Naked I came, Naked I shall depart- May the name of the Lord be praised!’ and for me it was like, if he can say that in that situation, who am I to do anything but. My situation wasn’t nearly as bad. I hadn’t lost any loved ones or anything so I knew things were going to get better. The other one was from the book of James, and I know it by heart, because I had to recite it a lot and tell myself ‘Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds because the testing of your faith develops perseverance, perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete and lack nothing’ And so for me it was like ok, I have to persevere so I can acquire the faith I need to be mature and complete and to lack in nothing. And there is another verse after that one that says ‘for God gives to all freely and without finding fault’ and for me those were the kinds of things that kept me going and motivated in that time.
How did the writing come back into the picture after you started off on the advertising route?
You know, I like doing things. I like doing things that I think I can do and I don’t think twice about doing them. It’s just a matter of ‘I think I can do this, let me try it out’ and then I do it. What you may not know about me which might show you the type of curiosity I have is I went to a stand- up comedy show once and it was my first time I had been to one and I see these guys on stage and I’m like ‘I can do that’ (laughs) I was sure I could do it. So I went to the Cape Comedy Collective, I think that’s what it was called, and I told them I wanted to be a comedian so they showed me the ropes. I said from the beginning that I wanted to be different so my kind of comedy was very different. I didn’t want to be like every other comic who was talking about ‘being black’ so I did something totally different. For a time I was doing pretty okay as a comedian whilst working in advertising at the same time and I was doing it simply because I wanted to do it. And I actually appeared on- I’m going to give away my age here (laughs)- but yeah, I appeared on Phat Joe and some reputable comedy showcases- I got bored and tired of it after a while though and tried other things. How the writing happened was through some of my stuff that I was putting up on YouTube. The Thought Leader for Mail & Guardian contacted me and said they’d seen the stuff I was saying on YouTube and would I be interested in writing for them. I was like ‘sure I can do it’ and I started writing even though it scared me to hell. It’s my constant need to be more than just one dimensional that pushes me. I don’t want to be one dimensional and I’m not. I’m not trying to be all these things – I just cannot ‘not’ be. I want to be everything I think I’m designed to be.
Let’s visit the twitter streets for a bit. You have quite a strong presence there and you have a lot to say about a lot of things. We could throw you any topic under the sun and I’m sure you’d have something to say about it. Where does this come from?
(Laughs) You know it’s so funny because when I look back I always ask myself ‘Have I always been like this?’ and then I remember that I’d debate my uncles who were much older than me when I was still in school about political issues; I’d read the papers and discuss whatever was in them. I used to watch and listen to freaking CODESA negotiations when I was young. I would follow the political process intensely and read about anything and everything I could read about. I liked being challenged and I liked challenging other people. I remember sometime in school we all had to have an oral, and the theme for the oral was ‘A Controversial Subject’ and this was about 2 months after OJ Simpson had been acquitted and this is in a class with 2 black kids and the rest of the kids are white, and I chose him as my subject and I remember starting off by saying ‘White people need to get over this and they need to understand that the justice system says ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and according to that system OJ is an innocent man based on A,B and C…
Talk about controversy – that was it right there…
And then what happened is I promise I never got to finish my presentation. Everyone just started grilling me and throwing me a thousand questions– my teacher even. And they were like but he used to beat her up and I was like ‘Yes, but that doesn’t mean he killed her. It was horrible for him to do that but that didn’t make him a murderer either’. I was standing in front of my class for over 30minutes getting all these questions thrown at me and I only got a break when the period ended. And I remember another time I made a speech about how white people should thank Mandela for freeing us because they now didn’t have to be embarrassed when they travelled overseas to say they were form South Africa (laughs). So yeah, I’ve always pushed buttons. For me; more than anything I think it’s a matter of challenging what I know. The opinions that I have on twitter are an extension of that and of what I’ve always been. I also want people to be interested in some of the things that I’m interested in so I always find a way to do that just so people can engage more and understand more and be a little more curious. That’s what I try to do. And sometimes I just say things because it’s fun and we all need to laugh a little.
Ok let’s talk about your dating life for a bit
Seeing as we’re all nice and relaxed and everything…
(Keeps laughing) I’m listening….
Let’s get this out of the way 1st – Are you seeing anyone?
Yes I am…
A lot of women find you intriguing because you seem like a very very smart guy…
(Laughs)It’s all an act…
Well, it’s working because we’re buying it. Seriously though; do you think you being so smart and well informed gives you an edge over other guys?
I don’t think the fact that I’m well informed does that. I think it’s my personality that does. Honestly. A lot of people for some reason always assume that when they meet me I’ll be this very serious guy and yet 90% of the time I’m not serious at all. I think that comes off as a plus for some people that I’m not as serious and as intense as they expected. I don’t like people who are always serious and I cannot be around people who are always serious. Life is serious enough as it is without our help (laughs). Does that give me an edge over other guys? I don’t know. I think people – women – just like guys who are themselves and I am myself all the time. And I think that’s attractive to people and that’s what might make me attractive to women even though I’m not necessarily that attractive (Laughs)
No comment Khaya.
What do you think you bring into a relationship? What kind of boyfriend are you?
Wow. I think I’m a good boyfriend. Am I as good as I possibly could be? –No. I don’t think anyone can ever really be – it’s quite difficult. You need to fully consider the dynamics of the other person – what they want and expect versus what you want and expect. I know I can be a bit headstrong and stubborn which might make me a not so great boyfriend but I really try to compromise and to negotiate. I negotiate a lot…
Yeah. Let me explain what I mean. Say you tell me ‘Well, I saw you talking to your ex’ or something like that, I will be like ‘Let’s not respond in an emotional way here. Rather let’s look at the context. What exactly did you see me do? Was this something out of the ordinary? How can we work together and move past this?’ I’d rather do this instead of reacting as emotionally as the other person because that always ruins relationships. I always try to avoid tackling something from an emotional place or being aggressive because then both of you become defensive and you end up saying things you really shouldn’t. I remember I used to have a girlfriend – that none of you know by the way (laughs)…
Well thank you for clarifying that because yes, our minds might have jumped to conclusions…
(Laughs)Yeah, Exactly- I just wanted to make sure. Anyway, I’m not a big believer in spending money to prove how much I’m into a relationship. I think spending money is a very easy way of ‘being there’ when in actual fact you could be absent. For me, I’d rather be present and show that I’m present and let the person feel that I’m present rather than me trying to say ‘hey, let’s go to Cape Town or let’s buy these shoes… If we buy the shoes we buy the shoes but never as a substitute for my time. I think materialism is a very bad way of creating a relationship and it worries me that a lot of people seem to think that’s the way to show affection or that you love someone. I cannot do that and if someone cannot accept that then I cannot and I will not be with them. I’d rather give of myself truly and have everything else as a bonus as opposed to ‘If I get you this then its evidence of my love’ when we all know it isn’t.
Let’s talk about your current book project. What was the whole concept behind the ‘Youngsters’ series and what can we expect from your book ‘In My Arrogant Opinion’?
The guys behind this, when they were talking, they said initially they had a shortlist of about 100 people they could possibly work with and they kept narrowing it down until they got to the 5 of us. The whole idea is to get people who don’t normally read books to read. Out of 50million people in this country only 900 000 buy books and that’s the gap they were trying to close. There are so many people who cannot read and we want to reach those. For the series, we could write about anything we wanted and what I decided was to tackle quite a few subjects. There are some very serious issues I tackle but there are also some very light hearted issues that I tackle. I talk about where I come from, I write about white women and fake smiles (laughs), It’s such a stupid random chapter but I enjoyed writing about it, I also write about young black men and how we should not be like our fathers who abandoned and haven’t looked after their children and that we should be the generation that changes that behavior. I talk about the relationship between men, women and money and I call that the love triangle. I talk about the fact that our languages are dying and how English is kind of taking over everything. I talk about ‘towning’ … (laughs)
But of course- what would a Khaya book be without that…?
I discuss quite a few issues and it’s half serious and half not so serious. And then at the back I quote myself (laughs). It’s called the ‘quotable black’…
Is this serious quotes or ‘towning’ quotes…?
There are 3 sections – it’s the good black, the angry black and the quotable black (laughs)
Where to from here for Khaya? What can we expect from you in the near future?
There’s a great thing that Woody Allen said – ‘If you want God to laugh, tell him your plans’ (laughs) so to tell you the truth, where to from now is to wherever the good Lord decides to take me. I am more than willing to go wherever. I’m not afraid of trying things that scare me. Like the job I currently have with Coca Cola, looking back to where I used to work; it’s a very different environment. Advertising is very chilled and laid back, it’s a ‘let’s party; everyone’s cool’ type of setting then going to Coca Cola which was an extremely corporate type of environment. It was terrifying but I was just like ‘you know, this is going to challenge me- I’ll learn new things so let me go for it!’ and for me that’s what it is. You don’t grow if you don’t try things that scare you and if you’re always in your ‘safe’ area you are never going to grow and you are going to always hate those people that put themselves out there. I will always put myself out there and I will take the criticism that comes with that and the things that people have to say because if you don’t want to have an impact then don’t do anything. If you’re going to try and make something happen know what’s coming your way and don’t be afraid of it. There is a great Latin proverb that I love which says ‘Live your own life for you will die your own death’ and I think for me that’s really what counts. I know people are going to criticize and call me a ‘liker’ of things but actually being a liker of things really takes you far. You’ve got to like things to strive for them. So someone might say ‘Oh good heavens, Khaya has written a book now – he’s such a ‘liker’ of things that one’ but for me it’s because I really wanted to write a book and if you’re going to find fault in that then so be it.
One final thing – your arrogant opinion on the following:
I think Julius speaks the truth when it’s convenient for him. When he was with Jacob Zuma he was pro-Jacob all the way and he was going on about how Jacob is cool and now that he’s out he’s got some very harsh things to say about him. I think some of the things he’s saying do need to be said – he worries me to some degree but at the same time I’m like ‘Good for him’- one thing for sure that I keep saying is there is definitely no show better than the Julius Malema show (laughs)
Racism in South Africa
Racism is very complex because it’s more subtle now than it was during Apartheid and that’s what makes it complicated. Sometimes it’s hidden behind ‘seemingly’ good intentions and sometimes I think people don’t even know they’re being racist because it’s such an integral part of who they are. Racism didn’t suddenly die in 1994 but then people had to suddenly ‘change’ their behavior and attitude post ’94. And everyone keeps joking about it – the fact that you don’t meet a single white person today who voted for the National Party – so it’s like ‘did they all die in ’94? What happened to them?’ I think we still have a long way to go when it comes to racism but I also think that black people tend to use the race card very freely even when there isn’t any racism. Instead of using the logical thinking process to try and win an argument or a debate it’s very lazy thinking to always throw in the race card. And I think when you really think things through to see if you were really at fault without letting your emotions get in the way, you might find that you were. Even if there is racism, look at the other aspects that might be bigger than that. Don’t always use racism as the only excuse. If you don’t get that promotion, is it really ‘just because’ you’re black? Ask yourself ‘Am I really performing’ ‘Did I really deserve to get it’? Be honest with yourself. Honesty is what we need. White people need to be honest with themselves and black people also need to be honest with themselves.
Jacob Zuma for a second term of presidency?
That’s a very good question comrade… (laughs)
Thank you Comrade…
What exactly do you want me to answer?
What is your ‘ARROGANT OPINION’ Comrade?
I think the ANC needs to ask itself a very honest question ‘Who is most capable to lead us into the future?’ I think Mandela did a very good thing – everyone loved him when he stepped down and I’m sure if he had run for a second term he probably would have gotten like 70 plus percent of the votes because even the white folk loved him but he knew there was someone else who could lead the country better than he could and I think for me that’s what it’s about – being very honest with yourself and stepping outside of your ego. I think Jacob Zuma and the ANC need to be extremely honest with themselves and not be blinded by a hunger for power. Do I think they’re people who’re better capable of running the country than Jacob? – I think so. Do I think he could run the ANC better than he is currently doing? I think so. Do I think that he could run the country better? I think so. What worries me is if you say things like this about someone, they automatically assume that it’s simply because you don’t like who they are or what they stand for and you have something against them. And that’s not the case. It’s just that we’ve got to look at what the country needs as opposed to what me as an individual might need.
Twitter and its influence or lack thereof…
I think some people take it far too seriously. A lot of people actually. I had a whole thing the other day where I wrote about the ‘twitter theses’ and I wrote about the fact that people tend to get an overinflated view of themselves because of twitter. You get a couple thousand followers and suddenly you think you’re big around the world and you have the license to say whatever it is you want to say regardless of what the rest of the world will think. And there’s also that whole thing of people being relatively anonymous and so because of that you can be quite harsh to people and tweet them things you would never be able to say to them in person. Another thing I always say is ‘Don’t confuse your power on twitter with your power in real life’. There are over 50 million people in South Africa and only a very small fraction of that is on twitter and suddenly because you’re known by a couple thousand people you think you are powerful and you’re ‘Mr Hot Shot’ but when you step outside your door no one knows who the hell you are. I think people need to have a realistic view of who they are and I think a lot of people don’t. And I think sometimes people elevate certain individuals on twitter more than they should be elevated and I will include myself on that list (laughs).
As the elevated or the elevator?
The elevated. There’s this term ‘tweleb’ that I hate. It’s like; let’s go back to what a celebrity is for a second. It’s definitely not a few thousand followers on twitter – that doesn’t qualify you to be a celebrity.
Finally, anything at all you want to share on ‘towning’? Any words, tips, new developments- anything….
(Laughs) Leave the towning to the towners – that’s all I’ve got to say!
January 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
January 8, 2013 § 1 Comment
December 30, 2012 § 11 Comments
Extract taken from my book, In My Arrogant Opinion, published in June 2012
Many young black South Africans carry around bitterness towards their fathers for a variety of reasons. One of the major reasons is because their fathers have been fathers in name only, and not in actions. The only thing they seem expert in is making babies – and then abandoning them. I have heard many people simply call their fathers sperm donors. I have heard people refer to their fathers as ‘that thing’. The great bitterness towardsfathers has less to do with hate than deep-seated disappointment. It is because they know what fathers are supposed to do. When they don’t do what they are meant to, bitterness sets in. But this does not mean that they hate their fathers. A myriad of contradictory feelings settle upon many children directed at their fathers.
A large number of black fathers should be ashamed of themselves. They have not taken responsibility after enjoying some hanky panky. They are like gangbangers in projects in the United States when gang violence was rife, and drive-bys. They practise what one could call bang-bys. It is no coincidence then that one of the reasons we experience high levels of crime in South Africa is precisely because fathers have abdicated their duties as men. The greatest crime that has been committed against black South African children has to be that of fathers abandoning their children. In fact, I don’t know if a large section of black fathers deserves the honour of being called men at all. Boys would be more appropriate considering the behaviour of many of our fathers.
This is not meant to take anything away from the many great fathers who know what it means to be a man. Those men who look after and show their children through actions as well words that they love them. Some fathers think that throwing money at their children is being a father. We all know that they do this to avoid confronting the fact that they haven’t been fathers. Money will never take the place of an absent father. Children want their fathers to be around more than they want their father’s money.
According to AMPS 65% of women in South Africa with babies under the age of two are single (never married and not living together). In 2006, this proportion was 50%. Obviously there is a serious underlying problem with society. Towning and running.
When I was in high school I noticed that a large portion of black childrenhad absent fathers. In one of my classes over 70% of the black children had fathers who were not around. They were there but they were missing. Not in a ‘Let’s file a missing person’s report’ manner, they just didn’t live at home with their children. Most of these children might as well have been raised by single parents, their mothers. The determination and strength of the black woman has never been applauded as well is it ought to have been.Black mothers have single-handedly raised the black nation. They have not been given the credit they deserve.
What absent fathers fail to realise is that children who grow up without fathers are five times more likely to live in poverty and times more likely to commit crimes. They are more likely to be teen parents. They are more likely to end up in jail. When fathers abandon their children, they don’t simply abandon them; they might as well be taking a bright future away from them. Absent fathers steal from their children.
Fathers have a responsibility not only to raise children. They are raising a nation. It is this realisation that needs to be planted in our heads.
No one is saying that fatherhood is easy. It isn’t. But a real man is the one who takes responsibility for his actions and for his loved ones. A father must do whatever he can to be the father he has to be. He should not use the convenient excuse of baby and mama drama – that she has cut him off from his child or children. A real man won’t let that stop him.
Sometimes women think they are protecting the children from heartbreak by having no contact with the father. You can understand it when the father vanishes for years, then at some point decides to be available, and then becomes absent again.
Many young women are afraid of marriage because of how they have seen their own fathers behave. They have not been great examples of the fathers that their daughters need them to be.Many young men have not been disciplined or taught by their fathers. These young men think that being a man means being macho, being aggressive and physically tough, because they have not been around their fathers long enough to know how a father, a man, should behave.
All my life my father has been absent, but his absence was not of his own choosing. He passed away before I’d had my fifth birthday and long before he had any opportunity to disappoint me in a way I could understand. Now this begs the question would he have behaved in the same way as other fathers had he lived longer? Would he have abandoned his offspring as most black fathers seem to?
We have to acknowledge that there is a problem with black fathers. This is not to say that all black fathers are problematic. There are many excellent black fathers. Nor am I saying that this is an exclusively black problem. However, in my experience I have noticed that it is largely a black problem.
We can’t simply pass this off as a legacy of the past. It is true, we do have something to blame apartheid. But there is no future in living in the past. We can only make our future by looking forward while recognising that we were short-changed in the past. We cannot keep using the past as an excuse. We have to do something about it.
As young men, we ought to try not to be like our fathers. We should be better than them. Even if you had a good father, aiming to be better than him is a noble pursuit. Our parents and the generations before them want us to be better than them; they don’t want us to set the bar lower. They set it high because they want us to clear it and we need to set it even higher for generations that come after us.
My greatest fear is being a bad husband or a bad father. My greatest fear also happens to give rise to my greatest hope – that I will be a great husband and father. As young men we need to hope for this and work towards it.
I hope that every single man my age and younger who had an absent father resolves not to be the father he had. If there is anything we should learn from our fathers, it is not to treat our families as the majority of our fathers have. Building a great nation starts in the family, and fathers have a greater role in this than many of us are willing to admit. There should be nothing acceptable about scarring our children by being absent.
Men, you have a duty and responsibility to raise a great nation and women, you have a duty to allow men to be fathers as well.
December 27, 2012 § 30 Comments
I am unAfrican
I wrote this piece after president Zuma suggested that having dogs was unAfrican.
I owe my being to the whimpers, the tail waggings, the growls, the ball chasing, the tail chasing of the Poodles, the Chihuahuas, the Sausage dogs, the Bearded Collies, the Dalmatians, the Pugs and the ever differing barks of the unAfrican canines. My body has frozen at the sound of a sudden, unexpected bark disturbing a silent moment. My heart has thawed in the warmth of their tails wagging and melted at the sight of their excitement when they see me arrive at home after a long day. When I say I am filled with joy by these animals, I know no one dare challenge me when I say – I am unAfrican!
I am formed of the migrants who left Europe to find a new home on our native land to bring these unAfrican animals. In my home the names of dogs named Bhovas, Boxers, Lions, Tigers, Sporties, Rambos, Bobbies and countless other typical township dog names have been uttered by the names of my ancestors. My home has been protected and saved by these Bhovas, the Sporties and have also been companion, servant and best friend.
I know what it signifies when the blanket use of culture and what it means to a whole people to determine African and what is not. This has caused me to ask myself the question, ‘but did not humanity originate from Africa? Is everything that the world does then not African? And whose job is it to determine what is African and isn’t; and how do we decide what is African and what isn’t.
I am born of a people with weaves, bald heads, curly hair, dreadlocks, straightened hair, fake nails and those who carry their Chihuahuas in small bags. I am born of a people who never let their dogs in the house because they are almost more comfortable with it staying outside – guarding the home. I am born of a people who put on Revlon, Mac and Maybe she is born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline.
I am born of a people who owned canines, wigs and partings on the side of their heads. Whatever their own actions, they remain still, part of me. I am unAfrican. Today it feels good to be unAfrican.
A picture by the great and now late Alf Kumalo. Mandela being playful with a dog.
This column was inspired by Thabo Mbeki’s very inspiring, “I am an African” speech before parliament when he was Nelson Mandela’s deputy. here is the link to the speech http://khayadlanga.com/2009/06/18/i-am-an-african-thabo-mbekis-speech-possibly-the-greatest-african-speech-ever/
December 12, 2012 § Leave a Comment
December 10, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The line reads, “You can’t get any closer to the news”. It’s got that take-my-own pic and instagram myself generation. This “get close to the news” idea has been done a million times before and similar ideas have been done, but these guys found a new and fresher way to execution an idea that could have so easily been tired. Nice work by Lowe Bull.
December 10, 2012 § 1 Comment
February 10, 2009 § Leave a Comment
We’ve been going on about being friend zones for some time now. Some people didn’t know that there is an even tougher zone than the Jesus zone. What is the Jesus Zone they ask? Well, I have been a victim. Consider this Confessions of the Jesus Zoned.
Being Jesus zoned is even more cruel than the Friend zone. See, it’s possible to escape the friend zone. I am yet to meet a man who has braved the Jesus zone and came out alive to tell the tails of his conquest. Fellas, you don’t want to meet this woman. She is nice, very friendly and extremely kind. So kind in fact that you think that she may have the hots for you. But alas, she just has the hots for sweet baby Jesus. Not you. No siree, no. You will also identify her by her church side hugs.
Let me tell you my tail.
There is nothing more annoying than asking a girl out and she gives you the, “I’m sorry I can’t go out with you because I’ve found Jesus,” line. As if Jesus was lost. And now that she has found him, he needs her to look after him until he is nursed back to health. Worse, they say I’m trying to get my relationship with Jesus in order first. I think that an honest, “Dude, I don’t want to go out with you,” will do. It bruises the ego but at least it’s honest. Besides, the male ego is resilient and optimistic. It’s too big. It’s too wide. It’s too strong. It won’t fit. It’s too much. Basically a really big ego.
A friend of mine who shall remain Khaya (yes, laugh) once got the Jesus line. Being the eternal optimist he said to the dear lady, “At least I lost to a better man. He’s perfect, how can I compete?” So I, (I mean Khaya.) Let’s try this again. So Khaya didn’t take this as being turned down. But he knew he knew he had the wool pulled over his eyes. One day however, Khaya went back to her and told her to say what she didn’t want to say. He said, “You know what, I want you to say it because I’m not going to say it for you.” He didn’t want someone try to protect his feelings. (Not that he actually has any. OK, just kidding).
“You can do it.” He coached her. After much encouragement she eventually said it. “It’s not going to happen.” She said it like she didn’t want to say it. My dear friend Khaya leaped to his feet and said, “You see, it’s not so hard. I’m not dead, I’m not crying and Jesus still loves you!” He almost gave her gold star.
Ladies, stay away from using Jesus as an excuse. Sure he’ll forgive you but that line is worse than the favourite guy pick up line, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” and that’s unforgivable.