Month: December 2013
It’s the third last day of the year, which means very little content in the world of daily newspapers. Ya, sure, we have three murder stories, another about police brutality, one about a mass wedding of over 500 people, a few celebs are engaged and the front pager: a woman who was forced to have sex with snakes by her sangoma husband.
For those of you who are not in sunny South Africa, a sangoma is what the western world calls a witch-doctor.
(However, where i”m from there are very distinct differences between a witch and doctor, but because all things spirit seem foreign or taboo in the western world – every thing other than vampires, Harry Potter and werewolves that is – I imagine the term witch-doctor was the only way Westerners could understand, or better still, lump together those whose work is greatly linked to a realm different to the one we currently occupy.)
Snakey sex sounds a bit weird for the front page of a newspaper, I know. But the publication I work for is no ordinary newspaper. We focus on the weird and wacky, the paranormal, the bumpy things we try to avoid in the night, or day…. Whatever.
“That’s a Popeye (our way of saying you’re an idiot) shop you work for,” people say.
“What’s next, aliens and tikoloshe‘s (a mythical – or real – character believed to be a witches familiar, much like a vampire’s ghoul) having babies,” people say.
“I don’t bother reading that garbage,” people say.
People say all this about a newspaper which has emerged as the most popular, controversial, and best selling in SA. Hell, I used to say the very same things (and worse) about this paper. I used to, up until I came to see and understand the readership. For most people all things that cannot be explained by logic or science is considered nonsense, such things are a hoax, they are said to be impossible even.
But for others, such things are as real as air… Never seen but always felt. The effects of such evil is as real as the small miracle of life. I know, I know… You think I’ve gone insane from working here but when you live in Africa, where mysticism and reality are one and the same thing, where people have the mystic power to control animals, people and the weather without the use of hypnosis, training or metal rods to conduct electrical current, believing in such is very easy.
No amount of western education and logical reasoning could ever dissuade the most educated dude who’s gone through all of the worlds libraries doing research for most of his life for whatever qualification is considered the most educated, like a PHD or whatever, nor could you convince the dude who’s educational qualification and experience constitutes herding cattle and smoking marijuana out in the fields for over 50 years that ghosts, witches and witch-craft do not exist.
These kinds of believers make up our readers. To them, the paranormal is as real as God or the Universe and all its galaxies or poop in the toilet bowl after you’ve sat there, in a painfully constipated state, for an hour.
Yup, reality is limited to or enhanced by our individual or collective perception. in the same way that a majority of the worlds population believes in a higher being that is responsible for the design of all things, a being which is given many a name based on how most we recognise ourselves in IT/ HIM/ HER/ THEY…. We cannot dismiss the fact that for others, there being mystical creatures whose purpose is to impose pain and suffering, or relief and joy is their reality; their right and their way of coming to terms with the day-to-day happenings of this mass we call Earth.
Wait… I was going somewhere with this post, and necessarily where I find myself now.
Oh! Yes, so a colleague of mine asks me to source some of the comments our readers leave on our Facebook page for an article she’s working on…
And this was for the more ‘normal’ stories we have. She wanted to know, because Hillbrow (which is the Johannesburg central business district) has been, with the highest prestige, ranked the forth place in the world to celebrate New Years in a weird way….
Not that kind of weird. Weird, as in people throw their old furniture and appliance out of their apartment building windows when the clock strikes 00:00.
Ok, so my dear colleague asks our readers to comment on how they celebrate their New Year, what’s the weird things they get up to, with whom?
Here’s what some of our readers said:
“Can’t wait 2 throw my old bed”
“Shooting of guns”
“Running naked in the street.”
And one dude goes….
“I’m going to kill myself”
In half a panic, my colleague rushes over to my desk (because my job is to monitor our digital stuff) and she asks, “Are those posts for real?”
Now i”m looking at her thinking “poor little white girl, takes things so seriously!” and I answered, “Not at all, relax. No one would ever their suicide note as a comment on the page of ridiculous paper on a social network.”
She walked away, half convinced that I was right, leaving me wondering…. I mean, hey… It’s the holiday season, people kill themselves a lot this time of year. I really hope I was right too!
Now i’m freaking out.
As a child, I often wondered why my mom would keep her old clothes and raggedy shoes for the longest of times. She would buy my brother and I new items at any given time and would make sure we looked our best… So we could, “fit in, not be labelled as the ‘scruffy looking kids’ or feel inferior to our friends because our clothes were tattered.” This was always her justification for neglecting herself and her needs.
I remember commenting, on numerous occasions, “Mama, you really need to get yourself new shoes.” And she’d reply, “I will baby, as soon as I’m sure you and brother have everything you need.”
That statement caused some mind entanglement at times, because as far as I was concerned, my brother and I had all we needed… Our mom was around, she cooked for us every day, we had lights at home, lunch for school and pocket money, we had TV, toys and junk food more often than most families.
My emotions have gotten the better of me. I cannot, without reducing myself to tears, think of the many sacrifices my mother has made, and continues to make for me. Especially me!
After dropping out of Law School, instead of disowning me, she stood by me until I knew what I wanted to do with my life. And she was there when I got into the Walter Sisulu School of Media Studies in search of a career in journalism. She was there when I fell pregnant during my first year. She was there for me and my daughter when I had to leave her with a 27 day old infant, because she wanted me to complete my studies, to chase my dreams, to become what I knew I needed to become.
She has sacrificed her own happiness so I could pursue my own, and still she is raising my child as I venture out into the world, as migrant worker in my own land, so I can provide for her and my child.
I never understood how hard it was to be a mother until I had my. no, our baby.
I was lucky enough to go home for Christmas, and I was blessed because for the first time in my life I could afford to buy our baby clothes, toys, and even have enough saved up for her school fees when she starts Grade R next year.
And while watching our baby play with her new toys, I said to my mum, “I think i’ll have to give some extra cash… Baby needs new sneakers.” And to my mama replied, “What for?… Won’t you come off short for your monthly budget?”
“Yes I will but…”
“But nothing, my daughter will not go wanting, and neither will my grandchild. I can buy baby new sneakers. You need new sneakers more than she does,” she said as pointed to my very old and worn Loxion Kulca high tops.
We shared a glance, a half smile and a wink in agreement.
It is a mothers selfless love that makes her give up her own happiness… for her cub. And I’m still her cub, a very blessed cub.
My father came for a visit the day I left home for Joburg. I last saw him about two years back, at my graduation party. He stayed for about 15 minutes. I think that’s the standard time period he can stomach seeing his two grown kids who he only actually parented for about 15% of their still growing lives. Seeing him was… Okay, i guess. I cant really say I know the guy, or that I love him. I do know the guy he was when I was 5, and I love that guy, or at least I love the memories I have of him.
Seeing him always makes me love my mama more, because I know she chose to stay… She chose to love us, she chose to take care of us, and she chooses to. Yup, more than gifts or birth of Christ, Christmas is about mothers. Ya sure and rest of the family, but it most definitely is about mothers.
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Of all the perceptions of myself, that people have and impose on me, I’m keeping mine closest to my heart.
I may not look like this… I may have a different hair do, a different dress on and have different accessories, but I will always be me.
(This was taken at the Rhodes University Botanical Gardens in 2011, April 20th by a friend I made when the picture was taken)
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This picture reminds me of the things I have lost, and the things I have gained in the past five years of my life.
Like woven bead work, life can be miraculous and beautiful. And like when the beaded work has broken, life can be nothing short of a remembrance of the beauty it once carried.
Though I have long lost these beaded bracelets, and the person who gave them to me, the beauty that he and the bracelets brought lingers in my spirit still.
And for the beauty…Thank you (lost love, Universe, Jah, my ancestors and Life)
Happy holidays 🙂
These are the words I would thought to say to my future child… While still in the womb, they were my daily prayer to and for her. Now that she is here, these are the words (though not mine but clearly from the same psyche as mine) she will hear from me.
You are the embodiment of greatness dear child. My love for you will forever last longer than eternity.