*On the natural hair demo at Pretoria Girls High in 2016
Pretoria Girls High girls protesting against school rules that banned natural hair
This brought tears to my eyes Because it reminded me of all those years As a school-girl thinking my hair ugly Because I couldn’t wear ribbons in it, Ever; Because it reminded me of the 1cm rule at my sister’s school; And the stink of perm lotion And the shame of stained pillowcases, And burnt ears, And the bald spots from scalp burns, And the pain of sleeping in ‘rollers’ – All for what?
To live up to a standard of beauty that was designed to exclude me and all those who look like me?
This brought tears to my eyes For all the times a black man told me I needed to ‘find a man’ to pay for a weave;
For all the times a brotha called me “cheap” As if coconut oil and olive oil and Shea butter are free at Pick n Pay;
For how my heart breaks every time a black woman tells me Her hair is too hard to manage – Because it is, when you don’t know how And don’t even know that you don’t know; For how it hurts when a black woman calls My hair unprofessional or unkempt; For how it angers me that they police our bodies and our sexuality and our hair –
But let them keep trying, The goddesses are rising. They can’t keep us down forever.
Is there such a thing as TOO MUCH FILTERING? Is it possible to mess around with the ‘beauty’ settings so much that not only do you NOT look prettier but you don’t look like yourself AT ALL? Filters, like makeup, are intended to disguise flaws and enhance assets, did you know that? They are not there for you to catfish, mmmkay?
If you’re editing your photos so much that you’re barely recognisable as YOURSELF, girl, put that phone down, take a deep breath, and then ask yourself what it is, exactly, that you’re looking for. If your medical aid covers it, think about seeing someone. Seriously. If you can’t afford a professional, I suggest reading yourself healthy. I highly recommend anything by Dr. Brené Brown to start with. We’re all broken, darling. There’s no shame in admitting that and getting help.
Some of y’all be doing the most. I mean damn, I like selfies as much as the next (vain, self-absorbed, narcisstic) woman, but there is such a thing as taking it too far.
Sometimes I would go up the stairs to the upper rooms where Brethren in Christ church had offices, to say hi to my Uncle Edgar who worked there. He never ever let me leave without giving me a green Z$5 note for ice-cream.
You would think that would mean I used to go up there quite often. You’d be wrong.
My walk from school to the bus terminus did not take me past Matopo Book Centre and although a detour was not out of the question, the fact that I’d have to answer to my mother stayed my feet.
Her: Kanti Noe. Ngizwe kuthwa udlule kuMalum’ Edgar? I hear you went to visit Uncle Edgar today?
Me: Yes. I was just passing by and since you always say it’s rude not to greet my elders, I went up to greet him (I thought I was being slick here, covering all my bases. Hint: I wasn’t. And of course I didn’t speak in English).
Her: Ubudlul’ uvela nga? Passing by from where?
She’s crocheting or knitting or doing cross-stitch and she’s not really looking at me, except somehow she is. I develop a sudden interest in her dancing fingers so as to avoid meeting her eyes because I’ve just realised that unless I was being naughty, I had no business being on that street. Oh shyte.
I’m in trouble and I know it. There’s no reasonable explanation for why I was close enough to Uncle Edgar’s office to justify the obligation I felt to go and ‘greet’ him. Without admitting to ukungezwa, being naughty, there was nothing I could say to explain the fact that I went up to greet my uncle in his office on Herbert Chitepo Avenue, when the route from school to the bus stop ran straight down (up?) Lobengula Street.
Passing by from where?
Herbet Chitepo Avenue and Lobengula Street run parallel to each other you see, and since I wasn’t allowed to deviate from that route the question was, in all fairness, salient. What was I doing on that street in the first place?
Well, I went to get that $5 because #BakeSale at school the next day. How was I to know Uncle Edgar would call ny mother’s office as soon as I left, to thank her for ‘sending me to greet him’? You know how it went down:
Him (After all the greetings and niceties and formalities and showing me off to his colleagues -Ngumtaka sis’ wami lwana osebenza efemini yamagqwetha): Ubuthunyiwe mtanami?
Me: uMama wathi ngibodlula ngibingelela…
Him: Ah, good one mzukulu…more niceties about what a good daughter I am… mi, thatha. Uzatheng’ ice-cream. Yasss!
There I was standing next to my mother’s favourite armchair -the one directly in front of the TV- making like her fingers were endlessly fascinating just so I wouldn’t have to meet her eyes.
Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be another race?
No really, sometimes I think -what if I was white? Funny, I never wonder ‘what if I was Indian?’… But I digress.
If I was a white 30-something single mother of two, what would my life look like? Would I own a comfortable house (left to me by my parents) in Saxonworld and make a living healing with crystals and talking about pretty things like unicorns, angels manifesting as butterflies, and opening the third eye?
Then I wind up back here: my God. Thank you that I was born black. I should have been black and rich but well, poverty keeps me humble. #onepaycheckawayfromdisaster
I came across an article on the interwebs detailing the dilemma faced by a doctor whose patient’s mother was, without the girl’s knowledge or consent, dosing her with drugs for her mental health condition/s. The girl had chosen to stop treatment but, the mother argued, she responded well to the medication and would undoubtedly relapse into cutting and related behaviours if she stopped taking it as she almost inevitably would were she to discover her mother’s deception.
Similar stories abound in the HIV field (of minor patients unknowingly taking ARVs) and it could be argued that the HIV situation is ‘better’ since once full disclosure is achieved and any anger issues successfully dealt with, the patient is presumably able to make objective choices regarding their healthcare whereas a mental health patient might not be equally able. In either case I think the protocols are the same: disclose as soon as possible and any challenges can be dealt with as they arise with the support of a multi-disciplinary team.
Parenting is hard and with the advent of social media and a seemingly liberated society it’s becoming harder. When we acknowledge this and stop pretending it’s intuitive and instinctive we’ll be better positioned to help parents and they in turn will not feel stigmatised and forced to deceitfulness in raising their children, but will be more likely to admit that they need support and more likely to make use of existing support structures.
We’re all just walking trauma cases to a greater or lesser degree. We’re that generation of which future generations will say of our parenting: the hurt raising the hurting.
All that said, here’s some balm for your soul from House, M.D. You can take comfor in knowing that no matter what you do, your children will be messed up. You can only do your best.
On my last day in Durban I went to Musgrave Centre as I have several times before; it’s one of my favourite shopping centres. It’s quiet, never congested, and unlike Hyde Park Centre (which is another favourite) it doesn’t make me wish my rich days would arrive with a quickness.
I spent long minutes browsing in CNA were I perved over the journals pictured above (ring-bound, hardcover, A4, white paper!), and became almost apopletic over the farquery being done to Enid Blyton’s work. I’d explain, but honestly it hurts too much and anyway, if you follow me on Instgram you already know. But in case you don’t, here you go.
Walking out of CNA I found myself in another bookshop, but this one! Oh Lord! Just thinking about it and how I felt in there…
In all the years I’ve been roaming Musgrave Centre, I never before came across this bookshop.
It felt magical, a place of happiness, joy, growth, fulfilment…all the things that make life worth living became possible the minute I stepped into Adams. I had no idea that the joy books bring me was throttled until the valve was released and I revelled, revelled I tell you, rejoiced, in being surrounded by books. I’d found my happy place. I’d come home.
I browsed happily and peacefully and felt quite zen. Nobody came to ask if I was looking for anything in particular (I wasn’t), and there were no bratty kids ruining my calm as there so often are in EB. They even had proper Enid Blyton!
I know it sounds a bit woo-hoo but the time I spent in Adams was the bestest part of this trip, I kid you not.
I didn’t just browse though, I compiled a reading list -pictorial of course because 21st century things- of the books I’d like to read in this my new year, because what does one do in a bookshop when one is broke except take pictures of all the books one wants to own? And so in no particular order of importance, my reading list (wallet-dependent) for 2017/2018.
I bet you thought that was it, huh? You underestimate how much time I spent in there and how happy I was!
I also want these books:
And these ones:
Sigh. And this one:
And this one:
Oh, and these, of course of course:
I know. Time and money, right? Trust me when I tell you that I’m on that grind.
I want the peace I had when I read every day, before kids and work and writing and social media and trying to get to grips with the horror that is singledom (yes I know it’s been a while -by which I mean years, plural- and I should be used to it by now, but woman was not meant to live alone, ok?!).
So what am I reading now? This.
And I don’t know what-all I’m going to do with myself when I finish it. Still, for now I’m all zen (mostly), doing what I need to do.
Here’s to the introverted, single bibliophiles everywhere. This one’s for you.
To the man who says I’m ‘too passionate’ about women’s issues not knowing that I embrace that shit like it’s my job, like I was aware of ‘Beijing’ (in fact yes, yes I was), and says I care too much about women (as if that’s even possible) and makes it sound like an insult: yes, yes I’m passionate about women, especially women who look like me. If that makes me a ‘problem woman’ well then that’s what it is and I am not for you.
Womanism is not for everyone and womanists are definitely not for everyone.
To the man who lied to me about his whereabouts and then told me to ‘get over it’ because his movements are none of my business: I agree. Where you go and what you do is not my concern. What IS my concern is the lying, because trust matters to me and lies erode trust. Why lie about something as insignificant as where you were unless, you know, where you were is not insignificant? If that makes me a problem woman, if refusing to play along when lied to makes me an unsuitable mate, that is fine. I am not for you.
Then there was the man who told me ‘women like you need a klaap…’ : Did I not just walk away? I didn’t even engage with this man or interrogate his statement (because my time is valuable). My face is too pretty and my soul too sensitive to EVER accept threats/promises of violence. The fact that he not only thought that but said it to my face is evidence enough for me that I am not for him. My decision in this regard is final. No further correspondence will be entered into.
To the man who tells me that monogamy is an unreasonable requirement in adult relationships: Dude, I feel you, that shyte is hard af. But what I know is that faithfulness to ME is non-negotiable, and if your value system doesn’t include fidelity in an exclusive, committed relationship, then you are not for me and I am not for you.
I am not for everybody, and everybody is not for me, and that is OK.