Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Time's Unforgiving Exchange

The looming prospect of death does amazing work to rouse sentimental feelings of nostalgia, introspect and a yearning for something "more."

Suddenly, life is revealed to be more than the mundane routine we've reduced it to: time spent wastefully inspires contriteness of the heart. All our dreams and hopes packed neatly onto shelves of future plans, chronologically ordered from "Student Life" to "Old Age/Retirement," gather dust as we rush about our lives, doing whatever demands our attention most. In this way, we move about intentionally, following the aimless whims of the present; ever forgetful of our goals and the passing of time.

I've learnt that time only gives you age in exchange. Growing old can be as beautiful as the blooming of a girl child into a mature, white-haired old woman of wisdom and grace, made knowledgeable by experience; in contrast, it may present bitter individuals, hardened by years of struggle imposed on themselves & time wasted saving for a future never to be lived.

The latter is a type of person I've grown to be impressively familiar with. See, my heart breaks each day when I come home to my bed-ridden father, who desperately wills his body to stay alive - perhaps in hopes of defeating his malicious fiend, cancer.

I think of my father's ambitions: here's a man who worked all his life for a comfortable last few chapters of his life but never savoured the years antecedent to his future.
When I think carefully, I see that I am no different.

Time is precious and finite.

We go to bed every night with no guarantee of being granted another breath of consciousness the next day, yet we make zealous plans for unpromised days ahead. I'm guilty of banking on tomorrow to fix my mistakes, or even to finally realize my full potential, but faithfully, I postpone it for another day each day.

I always thought that my ability to create an environment ideal for reconciliation would make strides as I grew older, so I procrastinated the day I would have a heart-to-heart with my dad, in hopes of having better capability to go through the discourse of mending a broken father-daughter relationship later - definitely later. The fault in my goal of course, was the lack of a set time-frame, thus, today I am burdened with the regret of never quite "fixing" things.

Earlier this year, I wrote him a letter, following high tensions in the house after he had done something to undermine the role of my mother in our family. Something said to me that "unforgiveness" is poisonous, and that I ought to let that go, lest it begins to hurt me without personal intent. I set out to pen my thoughts and grievances diplomatically, apologized for my anger, and made known my forgiveness for him/his actions.

Today, ebb tides of sadness play in my heart when I consider our incomplete story. We only ever shared one sacred moment of laughter and joy, that was on the 3rd of April this year.
My whole family had chosen to sit around his bed as he told us stories about his childhood and young adult years. His thoughts were lucid at this stage, but his body had begun to give in to the pressures of being slowly monopolized by cancer.

He has never been the same again.

So today, I must apologize:

I'm sorry that I leaned so heavily on the belief that I could do better to amend our relationship in the future, rather than first trying today, and perhaps later improving on past efforts.

I'm sorry that I let anger find a home in my heart for so long, and delayed his long overdue eviction.

I'm sorry that you're sick in bed and unable to control your thoughts and your movements.

I'm sorry that life has panned out this way for you, and that pride has had his way with you.

I'm sorry that I focused so gravely on everything you couldn't and didn't do, that I fail, even today, to see what you have done for me.

I'm sorry that this is how our story ends as father and daughter - that you'll always be a familiar stranger to me.

Today, I must begin to work harder to see the good in people; to invest in my present self in preparation for the future and, to nurture an environment in my heart fit for compassion, honesty and forgiveness to call home.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Slow Dancing With Heartbreak


My name is Ayanda, and I'm a sucker for romance. I thrive on romantic comedies, and weepy stories about dreamy gentlemen who never make their existence known. 

Life is always so much easier in those movies. What the author of the story has written, is exactly what will happen. The characters have no capacity to make their own decisions, altering the original story the author intended to tell. I once wished I could live a life as simple as Allie and Noah's in The Notebook. 

Nicholas Sparks(the author) intended to share a specific story, and the characters he created, portrayed just what he desired.

Our (live) stories are so much more complex. 

Free will, granted by the Ultimate Author, our God, puts a spanner in the works for us and the ultimate 'happy endings' God had in mind for us.

I imagine the story about the fall of mankind could have been turned into a romantic comedy:
Adam is perfect, he is in love with his Creator, handsome(I imagine), chivalrous, selfless, has a servant heart, humble and he is a natural leader- he is a real man.
Eve is beautiful, Adam has seen nothing in the garden as lovely as her, and has a crazed urge to protect her, serve her, shower his love on her, and to tend to her heart's needs and desires.
Adam and Eve are literally a match made in heaven!

I visualize God as He writes our life stories individually, resting His feet on our planet, as a footstool, and never frowning unknowingly about what to write next. From His mind, a hologram reflecting His intentions for each of our lives, from the day we are born till the day we make a long awaited return home, to Him in heaven. I imagine bright flashes of light as events happen, and the sound of a 'scratch' on a (playing)CD, each time we decide against the original 'script' He writes, He is not perturbed by this interception, but quickly makes alternative plans to get us to the ending He thought ideal for each story.
I imagine a sick dubstep track being formed by the constant scratch noises created each time we doubt His will, and choose our own over His. I think God would tap His feet slowly to the beat, never defeated, because He has a sevenfold back-up plan, sevenfold, for each seven in that 'fold'. I bet even more.

I am guilty first of taking matters into my own hands. Often, when faced with a tough decision to make, I will be polite and "ask" God what I ought to do; in my brain, calculations as far as the mind can see have been made, and a conclusion has been reached; at this point, only my heart cab be swayed.

I would love to say sincerely, that this Man has 100% control over my life. At the word control, please disregard the image of a tyrant or slave-driver, by all means.

He is loving, He is kind, He is gracious, He is gentle, He is fierce, He is just, He is pure, He is patient, He is majestic and He is in control.

But something in us never fails to fool us into thinking we can make better decisions than He does already, never mind the fact that He gave us the ability to assess situations, and make informed decisions.

I have lost count of the number of times I have burnt my finger from never believing that the fire is indeed scorching hot.
I have cried buckets of tears, apologized, and gone back to my old ways, repeatedly.
I have questioned God, despised Him,  and at some point, completely denied Him all rights to say anything about my life, and how I live it.

Today, something particularly heartbreaking was revealed to me. Pain wrapped its tentacles around my heart, and squeezed tightly, as my little heart struggled to continue with its mission to beat. I wept: my nose turning an ugly red-pink brown.

My heart was broken over something I refused to give up years ago. Like a cancer, it grew silently and destructively on the side, only to have the truth of its immutable existence shake the idea of the total control I claimed God had over my life.

I made plans for my future, and left God to His own devices, to do what He pleased with the leftover aspects of my life I couldn't care less about. Like an inexperienced hiker, I left my Guide to venture on a new path alone, fell off the mountain face, and managed only to gain grip on the branch of an oddly placed tree(thank You God for Your unending grace).

Silvermine, Cape Town. I really am an inexperienced hiker.
"Hey Jesus, I'm sorry I ever doubted Your will over my life. Help me out, I was wrong. Please, take the wheel, I'll hang out in the backseat, going where You lead me: that is my solemn promise."

Ideally, as any movie would have it, the Guide appears, salvaging the once proud victim, who is now subdued into repentance, and they continue with their hike in each other's company, as it should have been.

Happily ever afters are not too farfetched, after all. I am done with denying God what is His. It is wrecking enough to know that sin is in my nature.

Here God, my life is Your portion.


My name is still Ayanda, and I am still a sucker for romance: in His timing.

Friday, 15 March 2013

I Love Breasts.

Woman, thou art beautiful!

I have had a week of significant enlightenment and self-realization, and reached this conclusion:

I am a woman.

My father once said that a woman, can be referred to as a wombed man. Agreed, but I believe there is much more to us than that. We were once symbols of fertility, home-makers, and mothers. Today, we are hangers, or mannequins if you'd have it, for trendy clothes; we are objects used for decorative purposes on music videos; symbols of pleasure on mobile devices and home computers worldwide. Sex, something so pure, and intimate, has been turned into an industry, degenerated into something cheap, quick and shallow. It is no longer a sacred bond to be shared between husband and wife, rather, between any individuals who have the strong desire to share their bodies with another party, never mind the cost.
We have it all wrong.

I am beautiful.

"Skinny doesn't always mean beautiful," can be considered a cliche now, but how true is it, really.
See today, skinny is beautiful. That is what we have accepted, and the rest of the female population, has had to endure some harsh fashion and social injustices, as the 'fitting' 30% of our total population, is put on a pedestal, either for inflicting upon their bodies, harsh eating habits, or simply having good genes - although that's not good excuse enough not to keep fit, etc.

Imagine: the beginning of creation, some time during the day in the garden of Eden, Adam awakens, only to see the most enchanting creature lying next to him. Her body: wholesome, beautiful, and fertile in some sense. This is before sin came into the picture, Adam has no lustful thoughts  or impure desire for Eve.

How absolutely awestruck could Adam have been, her existence must have incited the heavy, nearly tribalistic beating of the drum that was his heart, and of the natural attraction he would have had to her - the male and female body created for each other.
Eve then, was a symbol of the hope for new life, a child bearer was introduced to the world.

The Venus of Willendorf, is an artwork I recently studied, and I was most intrigued by her! If you look 
The Venus of Willendorf. A limestone statuette of a female figure,
estimated to have been made between 24, 000 B.C and 22, 000 B.C.
at her shape, she is round. Her posterior is generously sized, as well as her breasts. Her body is teeming with hormones to bear and nurture children. Her body, a place of solace, strength and peace. She bears no facial features, as she is a universal symbol of fertility.

I love breasts. 

I really do. When I feel broken, or  defeated, I find comfort in leaning my head into my mother's bosom. I have friends, large breasted female friends, and I find myself at a loss for words to explain how beautiful their breasts are. Even in the bible, breasts: Proverbs 5:18-19,
"..a loving doe, a graceful deer- may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love."

When I read this verse two years ago, I chuckled and blushed alone in my bedroom, finding it hard to grasp what was meant when this was said. I may be one step closer to understanding now, although I am unmarried, and am not a husband, I have found that breasts are a wondrous thing.

The female body is grand. 

God has been designing special creations for as long as time has existed. I blame our disconnection, and dislike for His original purpose for us, as a race and nuclear communities, I blame these factors for rape, and other forms of sexual abuse, an accurate reflection of how far we have wondered off the path He originally created for us.

Women. We are priceless. We are more than music video girls, twerkers, models, bodies, prostitutes, exotic dancers, screen-savers, strippers, honeys, rape victims, lesbians, booty calls, porn stars, betties, stekkies, whores, child-bearers. We are more than the labels given to us by a society trapped in a box of darkness, confusion, self-spite, insecurity and superficiality.

We are the hope of tomorrow. We are souls, intricately designed by a King who loves us so deeply, He gave Himself up for us, that we could reclaim our crowns, and sit next to Him on His throne, as princesses, His own.

Men; Boys; Dads; Uncles; Brothers; Cousins; Friends; Boyfriends; Gentlemen; Homies; Lads... Listen!

Treat us with all the respect that your mental and emotional capacity allows you to keep. We are not 'things to have,' rather, beings to keep, to hold and to look after. We are independent, but we need leaders. Using abusive language, and derogatory names when you refer to us, does not make you manly. That is a lie. Power is in the man who has capacity to do anything, but chooses only to do some things, to the benefit of the people around him. You embody all the physical characteristics of a man, be one, don't be a shallow model of your true identity.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Returning Home: A Short Story

I pledged my life-long commitment to a man, nine years ago, proclaiming, "I do."
Today, I drive back home as a widowed mother, in a darkness as loathsome as death himself, with two precious little princesses, so still, in the backseat of my car.

I last saw my parents on Christmas; my circumstance was different then. My only battles were against the financial strain of mortgage payments, and the cost of ballet classes at the private studio in town, for Angel and Scarlet. They were asleep now, but when they awoken, the questioning would begin, again. "Where is daddy, mommy?" mentally, I could hear Scarlet ask gently.
"When will he come join us at Grammy's house?" Angela would frown, baring her now aged, six milk-teeth. I do not know where I will begin, in explaining his disappearance from their lives. My heart has not made sense of it yet: it refuses to.

Gerald was a real hero. Even the day we met, I had watched him solve a dispute, outside a vibrant cocktail bar at the beach, between two impetuous men, who had resolved to, "take it outside," when a casual conversation turned into a mindless debate. I could not interpret the movement of his lips, into words, but his body was relaxed and his face was calm. The men walked away from each other, defeat painted heavily on their faces. I had obviously forgotten that I was staring at him, because he now walked in my direction, with a kind, curious expression on his face. He was not too tall, he wore black Havaianas, red shorts folded at the knee, and a white v-necked vest, Che Guevara staring sternly at me, framed perfectly by Gerald's lean arms. As he approached, I noticed a scar on his chin, I could not begin to imagine the story behind it- he already seemed so courageous, selfless.
He spoke, saying, "Hi- Gerald," he smiled, nodded and extended his hand. His voice was like gentle thunder, in a mild storm. His teeth were white, and told the story of a boy who wore braces throughout his schooling career.

Eight months later, we were sitting in my parents' dining room. My mother was beaming, she was undeniably fond of him. At that moment, I was as happy as I imagined a newly wed bride would be, yet we had only spoken about marriage twice, and sometimes just in passing.

Twenty-seven months, two weeks and five days after meeting each other's families: he invited me to coffee at our favorite café. When I arrived, the place was empty. I was early, Gerald would probably come soon, and we would drive to another coffee spot. Waterfront was beautiful. Perhaps Myatt Café & Chocolatier, had closed business in preparation for a special event later. I turned around, walking towards my dirty, once white Opel hatchback. I heard Gerald call my name, I turned, again, only to see him beckoning me to come join him inside the little shop. It looked as though they had closed for an auspicious event as I had predicted. 

My heart began to dance.

The setup inside was whimsical. All the tables had been taken out, hidden elsewhere I assumed, except one, set in the center of the room. Gerald's guitar was in the newspaper corner, and Norah Jones sang, softly suggesting to come away with her, through the speakers mounted on the walls. Our table, had places set for two. The tease aroma of butternut, Danish feta and other lovely ingredients, led me to believe my favorite bruschetta was served, but hidden from my sight, by a glass jar, containing aged squares of paper- I looked in closer, curious. Every note, every little doodle and sometimes verse, that I had playfully written or drawn for him, was contained. I made a habit of leaving these little notes in his car; sometimes on his kitchen counter, or on his desk at the office.

He pulled my seat out for me, I sat, and he kneeled down beside me. At this, my heart did a dance I could not name: it was a strange fusion of the salsa, zulu dance and ballet.

"Love, we make a good team. I am okay alone, but I am better with you- see, you add to the quality of a person I am. The greatest things about us is, we're not just united in love, but we're purpose driven, by something greater than life itself. You are the essence of beauty. We are flawed, differently, and connect, more than just physically and mentally. This glass jar is yet a fraction full, with only my half of our memories shared, I want to add to this collection, together, for the rest of my life. 
Join me in the challenge of filling it, and marry me?"
Dumbstruck, I looked deeper into the jar, then back at him, and reached out my hands, exclaiming,

Nine years later, and our marriage had only grown better with time; like a bottle of wine left to age in the security of a wine cellar.

Now, after spending two days on the road, I had finally reached home. My mother welcomed me with the warmth I had always known as unique to her alone. Emotions tugged at my heart's strings, sadness against joy, brokenness against deep pining. My vision became blurred, and my cheeks began to heat up, tickled by a warm, trickling sensation, "Hi mom."
"Grammy!" Angel and Scarlet had woken and raced out the car, to greet their grandmother, whose face now shone with a joy so sincere and great, it squeezed my heart tightly within.

We walked into the house, lugging our suitcases behind us- Gerald always took care of tasks of this nature. I felt a deep pain in my chest. The reality of his death was only beginning to settle now. His absence from our lives, now made permanent, dawned on me. At that moment, something in the substance of my soul shattered, broke. It gave in like a single pillar, left to withstand the pressure, and weight, of a structure fit for the support of four counterparts. I fell to the ground, letting out a moan that slowly turned into cries of agony, heartfelt anguish. I had wanted so badly, to be a pillar of strength for my daughters, but I had reached my breaking point. I was home, my mother would take care of things: she always managed to solve problems as they presented themselves.

My bedroom had not been interfered with since I left for University. Its pastel green walls, brought back memories of a teenage girl who had her future planned, right to her funeral. My story was not going to end the way I had hoped. Gerald, my dream husband and more, was gone. He had been shot while helping a teenage boy into the back of an ambulance. The gangs were out that night, news about their initiation of hopeful new members had been broadcasted frequently on the radio. Gerald was caught in the crossfire: they shot at him for attempting to help a victim of their wild behavior.

The aroma of freshly baked bread, and cinnamon butternut soup, wafted into my old room, through the door which Scarlet had left open as she dropped her luggage off in a hurry. 
This would do. Being home always simplified even my most complex of situations. I would mourn, and then heal- right here, now as a widowed mother of two, and daughter.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Revolution Through The Eyes Of A Teenager.

South Africa, my country.

I was born here, I live here, and I bear the marks of my country's history; a history so rich, and well known, a few Americans could tell you the name of at least one of our presidents, with all the pleasant, vague conviction in their hearts- thank you Tata Mandela!

My parents keep reminding me of how far our country has come as a nation, a mass community.
There will always be the occasional racist individual, a whole town in some cases, but not much can be done for another person's ignorance, or insecurity.
In many ways, I am being taught to look past color, and see the content within.

South African history is a topic our government ensures we are all very familiar with.
For as long as I remember, we have been taught the dates of significant events, and given many 'bits' of information on the tragdey that once was, Apartheid- over and over.

I don't remember, not once, hearing about a white, indian, asian or colored person, in our history lessons that is, who faught actively in the struggle, for the equality of all men.
That kind of information is left in textbooks, on dusty library shelves, in schools, where the curious learner will go, to read in detail, the ins and outs of politics in that day.
As for the rest of the student population, as far as their concerned: Apartheid was for the black and white communities alone, and maybe just a little for the other races.

Now, I turn 18 next year, just in time to vote(if my calculations are correct), and for a while, I have been thinking about who I would vote for, if I was given the opportunity.

In grade 7, four years ago, I decided that the Democratic Alliance would win my vote: "hands down".
Hellen Zille just seemed to have it 'all together', it always seemed that, no other name appeared on the front page of my dad's newspapers as often as Jacob Zuma's did, with negative headlines, causing me to question why a whole nation would vote for the 'bad guy".
All he had afterall, was a few catchy songs/anthems and a good number of scandals to his name.

The news would show, just before our family soapie, Generations, telling news of children going to school under the shelter of trees branches; families waiting for many years for RDP(Reconstruction and Development Programme) houses they had registered for; corruption; sacks of money being spent on decorating the country for an event that wouldn't generate equal profit, etc.

How I disliked this president! He was 'unwise', and selfish: how could children not have their own desks like me?.. and air-conditioners in their classrooms as I did?

Today, I see tweets about Zuma declaring that caring for pets is unAfrican, when, what he really meant was, in my opinion:
For a person to care more about an animal than they do for a person, is unAfrican. Someone explained it this way: a person(Angelique) owns a dog, and has a maid(Zodwa). Zodwa earns whatever amount per month, and Chase(let's call the dog that) is probably consuming the same amount in food; baths at the dog parlour and check-ups at the vet. Spot feels sick, and needs to have an operation performed on him, costing ±R6000. Angelique, without thought, willingly swipes her debit card to save her dog's life, yet Zodwa, the woman who raised Angie's children, washes her underwear, sacrifices mornings to send her children off to school and feeds Spot, has to count months before she can say she has that amount of money to her name; or the simple scenario of a dog given the front seat in a bakkie, and a worker, put in the back.
That is unAfrican: to value animal life, over any human life, whatever the color.

The DA now governs the Western Cape. I have only made it to Cape Town, and boy, what a city!
The beaches are impeccably clean, there are very few/no potholes, I see people riding horses to the nearby store to get bread, and everything just seems all THAT much better- yet, when you fly in, there's a beautiful aerial sight, of lovely homes, each with a sparkling blue swimming pool, a car/two and a lush, green garden- a few minutes over, is a large block, of run-down shacks, little mounds of litter, a sense of abandonment and hostility- unkempt basketball courts, and patchy soccer fields.

But how?

I keep hearing the DA, pointing out all the faults of the ANC, but don't recall a time when news broke out, about things the DA is doing to improve the situation of the poorer majority in their province. Hellen, and Lindi may march occassionally with the masses, endorsing the image of a genderly and racially equal country.

When I see Cape Town, I don't think South Africa. In my head, it's better than that.
When I see little shacks though, and a large population, struggling to make ends meet, it makes me question how, "out of this world or country", rather, Cape Town is.
Their services are up to scratch, and they are highly efficient in the public's eyes, but to uSis' Aviwe, living in a shack in a Khayelitsha, with her 5 children, what is the DA?

It's a never ending struggle. 

The ANC, the party of my parents and grandparents, is no longer built on integrity, justice, passion and respect. Instead, it seems like a party of children on the playground, declaring, "every man for himself", and running off into their different corners and hiding places for 'den', never looking back to see who is 'on', and going to make sure the game is played. We find that certain sectors do better than others. It is as if, our ruling party is a team of players who constantly need to be reminded that there is no 'i' in team, and no justice in self gratification, before a nation you promised to have best interests politically for.

The DA, the party of my dreams, and the thought enemy of my elders, is riddle ridden.
They keep a good image, but under all the perfume, manicured nails and make-up, they hide a majority community of people(I said people), living like strangers or squatters, in their own land.

I want to know who to vote for. I wish these political parties would give me a reason to mark that x next to the formal portrait of either of their leaders.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

We Create: Film, Clothing & Art.

Blades of grass, bowl haircuts & linoleum prints.

"I believe there is something encouraging about the labored work of a genius. Beethoven wrestled notes onto the page. For him composing music was a messy, physical process. " Jill Carattini

 I've been fortunate enough to spend a week in Johannesburg, South Africa, with close family and a friend. I must have you know, that I write now, sitting on someone's lawn, with blades of grass crunching beneath the pressure of my weight.
Crunchy grass in Johannesburg.

Blades of grass are a ponderous thing. They make me think of us, the human race- you know, we come in different colors; shapes & sizes. We share the same Creator: organically made individuals anyway, as desperate lawn owners would be well acquainted with synthetic grass.

The quote above is from a newsletter I'm subscribed to, by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. It made me think of 3 creators:

  • The first one being the Ultimate, who stands as the Steven Spielberg, in a room of aspiring film students who can only look at His work in absolute awe.
  • The second, being an art lover. I was at Arts on Main, on Fox Street, and was direly fascinated by the choice of hairstyles "hipsters" sported. One of my favorites was a bowl haircut a young woman neatly showed off with an outfit, I could have described as a composition fit for Van Gogh(I say this without spite/scorn, but with sincere appreciation.). This woman created something of her own- something only she can interpret correctly, as she knows exactly what her intentions were with her high waisted leather cut off shorts, and other items.
  • The third, an artist, and aren't we all in our own right? I walked into an art gallery, exhibiting two artists' work, and containing two oil tank truck loads worth of art resources. As I took a brief tour of the place, I found a few incomplete linocut prints/carvings. It's hard to describe, but I felt as though my heart would explode from an influx of awe and intense appreciation- OH MY HAT! This same day, I spent some time with a beautiful soul, an old friend of mine whose photography moved something within the dark depths of my inner being- while going through some of his recent images on his camera, I felt a surge of passion ripple through my heart. How something so simple could move me in that way, remains a mystery to me. He took a seat next to me, and leaned in, to see where exactly I was in the informal gallery of his images. I browsed slower so he could explain what he meant with his composition, and after he helped me dissect a few images casually, it hit me that much thought goes into the creation of an image/object, whether conscious or subconscious. . . One photo, he explained, had happened by 'mistake', but to me, made complete sense. 
    • Carved sheets of linoleum.
      So, we create: in our heads; with our hands and with the movement of our tongues.
      • We are creators, I say with confidence. The cause, I have found, is our Creator.

      He took time to create each one of us, our inner beings and physical too
      (Psalm 139:13&14); He fashioned us for Himself- bodies for acts of worship, minds for thoughts bringing Him glory, and lips to proclaim His greatness. 

      The trouble begins when we are out of touch with our Creator. Imagine, owning a fully electronic motorcar, with all the 'extras'- the buttons and special modes, without a manual, or means to communicate with the manufacturer. I don't believe for one moment, that an individual could use that car to its full potential- in fact, we may find that the said person could do the car more harm than good, with incorrect use.

      Think briefly about talented secular artists(authors, musicians, visual artists, film producers, etc.), and the wealth they may accumulate in a lifetime. It seems like a pretty solid life, except, we see it within the confines of our standards. My thoughts are that God(yes, I said the G word)'s standards are a lot higher than ours, His plans, beyond our wildest imagination. While we prize wealth as a good criteria for a good life, He promises us more than that- as unglamorous as it might seem, heavenly wealth may be the best investment to keep, after all, God is the Man of the moment, who thought of money- prosperity and everything else that may come to mind. In Matthew 6:19&20, He reminds us about the little value our earthly wealth has. 

      These, above mentioned individuals find themselves hungry for more. You could call it a vicious cycle. When we use our God-given talents for anything else but His glory, we get stuck in a 'rut'. The praise/credit received is never enough; instead of leading people to God with our talents, we lead them away from Him, in the completely opposite direction. 

      God, a perfect Being, knows what He intends with us when He creates us. He has purpose for a good sense of humor, for beauty, for wit, for a voice with body, for passion, for sensitivity, for a good eye for unique images, for care, for nimble fingers, for creativity, for good creative writing skill, for rhythm, for speed, for unusually curly hair, for dark skin, for long arms, for height, for extra caution, and a host of other things.

      Any good product is can be used to its optimum when the manufacturer can hint about how to make use of it. Imagine that car, perhaps a Ferrari, being used as hearse rather than a race car because it seems similar to one- it has four wheels, doesn't it? A car made for speed racing, being used to transport dead bodies- at respectable speeds. It is the same with us, people created from the creativity of an Infinite Being- who moulded and shaped us with great purpose- using our gifts incorrectly.

      An author who spends her time writing dark fantasies, rather than novels/stories revealing truth and most importantly: Life, may find she robbed herself when that day comes, and her physical wealth equates to nothing, in the eternal run.

      Our error is our disconnection from Him. 
      If we spend more time referring to our manuals, and seeking advice from our Manufacturer, we may find ourselves living lives of fulfillment, rather than greed, and discontent.

      Refer to Manufacturer. It's the best you can do, for yourself & the community around you.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

I Am African.

Rich in melanin supply, and wealthy in culture and tradition: I am.

This photo was taken at a traditional 21st of one of my close friend's sister. There's a more colorful story behind it though. My friend(Sibu) invited a few of us to come and support her family during a massive celebratory ceremony. Our group of friends was very excited, but not half as excited as I was. Over this weekend, I knew I would learn some new songs, dances and about some traditional beliefs. Boy, was it an adventure!

We spent the whole night learning and practicing dance sequences and songs, woke up a few hours later to bath in a nearby stream(which I politely avoided) and sang, for meat! It was fantastic. There was a group of girls(namely, virgins) who came specifically to entertain guests with traditional dance and singing. Observing it was fun, but stirred some insecurity within my heart. Here I was, somewhere in a crowd of my people, yet I felt so out of place: I knew just one song, and could not throw my leg in the air high enough for the life of me! I felt awkward and like an alien to my own culture; to everything my country says I should be. How black am I really?

I'm somewhere in this picture, half in the shot in a yellow vest on the left.

I can say, with confidence that my parents have done a good job at raising me, and helping me turn out 'right', but they may have forgotten to add something to the identity they created for me. Culture! I cannot explain the turmoil I felt when I got home and had a brief reflection of the weekend behind me. I found myself asking God who He says I am, what I am, and what the heck being african is, if the color of my skin and the language I spoke wasn't enough. Heck. Did I think I was better than everyone else, or was I shamefully over westernized? I needed some answers.

Just this past week, I've been serving at a holiday club for primary school children in the Addington area, Durban, through my church(Westville Baptist, which I must mention is quite awesome!). They have an influx of children from all over  Africa: Congo, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Mozambique etc.

I've been studying their faces, skin tones, language and smiles and have found that they are so precious!

The bible tells us that God loves us, equally. What the bible says, we should believe because it is from God, but with the political histories of the world, prejudice and undeniable racism, this idea of equality has become hard to understand.

I have also believed, for most of my life, that 'white people'(this is said with no intentional offense to anyone, in South Africa this is usually okay) are superior. They have always had better hair, skin, bodies and more inventions(according to my old self). I used to dread being black(this too, is normal), and rejected anything that identified me with this race. Absurd! I know. I only ever heard black people say, 'Black is beautiful' and scorned at other races who praised our culture. 

Many times, I got into arguments with people who believed otherwise about culture and traditional practices. Black pride, afrocentrism, what was that to me? It meant nothing. I must admit, it still has little value in my life, but I soon realized that I was focussing on the wrong thing: myself, and everyone else, and had never thought to put God in the equation- the very Being who created all of this!

In the bible, I do not recall God ever proclaiming more love for one nation over another. Everything He does and says is out of love, and justice(which He gives of freely and equally because He is perfect), which we cannot understand. 

Okay. So, how black am I really? 
Very! Completely, utterly, fully, 500% black. 


My skin says so. My heart does too. The food I eat. The way I relate with my parents, community and friends. My naturally tightly curled hair. I'm always late! The languages I speak. My history. My past. My present. My future. But most importantly, God says so: not that I am black(that does not really matter), but that I am His; one of His own, a princess; royalty because He took me in as one of His; a righteous King, called an unworthy, mostly sinful child to sit on His lap.

I am black, undeniably.
but most importantly:
I am God's own, and I am called to live like His little princess.