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Why Blogging?

This is the post excerpt.

I’ve always been inquisitive. About everything. I’m the WHY girl. My parents used to be patient with me and answer my never ending whys but there comes a time in a person’s life when you’ll be on your own and sure enough my time came too. “Why do we need to make the bed every morning when we know we’re going to mess it up again at night when we sleep? It’s a waste of time and energy.” I said shooting my mouth without thinking. My mother’s response shocked me. “Because I say so!” That answer left no room for me to ask follow up questions.

Anyone can ask a question. It is understanding the art of who, what, why, when and how that separates the experts from the amateurs. Moreover, it takes a combination of skills to ensure that you get a satisfactory answer.

I was in my early teenage years when I decided to get some answers about my family. It had dawned on me that we did not look like other families and we did not fit into the ‘perfect family model’. There were just too many of us. Firstly, a skilled Question-Asker figures out who is the right person to present the question to. Think about it, are you sitting with a bunch of unanswered questions? Well, my question to you is this, did you ask the right person? I went to my father with my questions.

Secondly, when and where is the question being asked, what is the setting? Often times, people don’t get the answers they are looking for because they lacked knowing the right time to ask, iba ne timing. Understand that there is a time for everything under the sun. If the right time doesn’t present itself, by all means, take the initiative and create it.

We were leaving the mall after my father had bought clothes for my siblings and I. Everyone was in a jolly mood and I seized the moment! As we walked towards the parking lot, I hurried and walked alongside him, it was just the two of us. No one was within ear shot and I tested the waters by talking about silly things. I knew that he was always pleased with himself after fulfilling a parental responsibility, especially if it required finances, he loved providing for us…then I asked.

Thirdly, how do you ask? Take note of every aspect, your tone of voice and how you’re dressed matter. Trust me, leave nothing to chance. As my good friend says, “People need to have a sense of occasion.” I quote him because he is one of the most brilliant Question-Askers I know. Watching him in action is like watching Lionel Messi with a ball on a soccer field or Lira performing live in concert. It is a wonder to behold, pure magic. You can choose to be polite or go for the shock effect, it’s really up to you but be prepared. “Why did you choose polygamy and have fifteen children? If you had one family with fewer children, you’d probably be living your dream life and driving your dream car. You’d probably be a millionaire.” I went for the shock effect!

Children all over the world are taught the universal rule of law: Elders are not to be questioned. Obviously, there are always exceptions to the rule. However, the majority says when a child asks questions, that child is being disrespectful, insolent and is embarrassing their parents. Thank goodness for those parents and caregivers (teachers, aunts, uncles and all those who have some sort of influence in shaping a child) who do not conform to this law. I have a theory about this, I think this is a strategy they came up with because they didn’t know the answer. However, that is not the point. It’s not so much about the answer, it’s about having the platform to ask, to let your mind wander. The man who raised me was a non-conformist. He cultivated a culture of discussion, expressing your views and championed the human right of freedom of speech, within boundaries of course. He always wanted to know what we were thinking and engaged us in many topics from current affairs to what we were interested in. “You know, if I had my way, we would all be living in the same house, under one big roof. Anyways, I am living my dream. Knowing that I’ve built homes for all my children. Even if I die, you will always have your homes. I love that I get to see my children almost everyday. When I see you all happy like this, it makes working hard worth it. I know that I’m rich and I don’t have to have millions in the bank to prove it!”

I was intentional about the name of this blog, Sindiswa’s Sassy Insights. My father who was Zulu, gave me my name. It is of Xhosa origin and he chose it because he loved it. Had he been solely driven by the meaning, he would have given me the IsiZulu version, Sindisiwe which is not the case. Zulu people are bold in whatever they do, irrespective of whether they are right or wrong. My mother is Xhosa and I embrace my Xhosa-ness completely. We all know that this is the smartest tribe in South Africa and very influential too. Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela, Mirriam Makeba, Trevoh Noah, the list is long. According to Collins English dictionary, Sassy means lively, bold and full of spirit. The Merriam Webster’s description is: distinctively smart and stylish. The Oxford dictionary echoes the two previous descriptions adding cheeky. Beyoncé shows off her sassy side through Sasha Fierce her alter ego, who is not afraid to dance and dress fiercely. Insights means observation, the three mentioned dictionaries describe it as perception or understanding. In Psychology, insight is the capacity for understanding one’s own or another’s mental processes through attitudes and behaviour.

My objective is to rise up to the name of this blog, Sindiswa’s Sassy Insights. I have created this platform to express my truth and imagination as writer. Let me say that again, I am a writer and use my imagination through words to tell stories some fact and some fiction. I welcome you to give your insights, tell me what you think, let’s engage.

Over the years, experiences, past failures, fear and Christianity have influenced and somewhat diluted what I want to say and how I want to say it (I shall tackle this story another day). Even if you’re afraid to ask those thought provoking questions, go ahead and ask. Or those seemingly silly questions, ask. Give your thoughts a voice. By doing that, you’re giving yourself one of life’s greatest gifts, the gift of knowledge. My daughter coined the term Question-Asker. At about 8 years old, already tired of all my questions about school, “Mama, you ask too many questions, you’re a Question-Asker.” I took the title and wore it like a badge of honour whilst changing the questions I asked and how I asked them. Spend time with yourself to figure out what you don’t know. Even if you spend years on a journey to discover the answer, you will have formulated ideas and opinions of your own. A friend of mine says, “kubuhlungu ukungazi ukuthi awazi” the tragedy is not that you don’t know but rather it’s not knowing that you don’t know. Ask.

The F*Word

“Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” Yehuda Berg

As much as your reaction to the title of this post delights me, your horror and utter disbelief, you cherished reader, have just proven my point! Words are loaded and have the ability to create, based on our belief, knowledge and experience.

Let’s take a brief look at the term the F*Word. I promise I won’t be like those speakers at funerals who begin their speeches with, “I’ll be brief…” As soon as I hear those words, I assume the worst. That’s the power of words. The F*Word was first recorded in 1598 in the [John Florio’s A World’s of Wordes, London: Arnold Hatfield for Edw. Blount] dictionary. It is derived from the Latin word fuuere and Old German ficken meaning to struck. There was nothing vulgar about the word initially but over time, it evolved and has since been banned from the dictionary. If the F*Word could speak, I imagine it would say, “I’ve been around for a long time but along the way I was misused and made to feel cheap. I was then associated with indecent behaviour and later I was tossed in the trash as though I was rubbish.”

However, the F*Word which I’m referring to is not that one. There are thousands upon thousands of words that begin with the letter F. To date, there are twenty nine thousand, five hundred and fifty six words (29 556) and counting. Moreover, new words are officially added in the dictionary every quarter!

Remember I spoke briefly about funerals earlier, weddings on the other hand are the complete opposite. One of my highlights at weddings are the vows and speeches. Words have always fascinated me. A double lesson of English class at school for me was like having an all access pass to go behind the scenes and be with the cast and crew of the most popular TV show. Like being in the locker room of your favourite sports team, moments before they play their final match! The anticipation, the thrill of it all. Its the same feeling before I read a book.

So this year, I’ll begin with frequently posting a series titled the F*Word focusing on different words beginning with the letter F. Out of 26 letters of the alphabet why choose F? Allow me to answer using words a few F*Words. Is the current generation living a façade, fearing the future and fleeing to Facebook? Do we favour friends and forget our family? I spy with my little eye something beginning with the letter F@%&#*.

Feel free to suggest words or phrases you have in mind which we can look at and discuss.

Until next time, when I reemerge from from under my rock.

First Sunday

#NewYear#

Today is the First Sunday of the year. People who don’t necessarily believe in God or a Higher Power believe in the power of The First Sunday of The Year. Different churches and establishments filled to capacity as people gathered together for various reasons.

One of the reasons is for atonement. To erase and do away with the mishaps which took place in December. Mind you, December is constructed in a completely different way to other months with its own rules and regulations. Everything no matter how ordinary just displays an element of extra and being over the top. Even time seems to comply and work differently in Dezemba as it affectionately known in our parts of the world. Dezemba just feels way too short and seems to end way too soon.

You do know that this is thee only month in the calendar that exceeds 31 days right? There is the 32nd, the 33rd and the last day is the day before The First Sunday of the year. Put simply, yesterday was the 35th of Dezemba! The year can be either the new year 2020 or the previous year, 2019 whatever suits the individual or situation.

The other reason which make people gather at churches and different establishments, is optimism. Generally people are drawn to all things new. The excitement and hope that one puts in a new day, a new week, a new month, a new year and in this instance, a new decade or even a new or latest phone is astonishing. The idea of beginning afresh. Perhaps this is the reason for the new clothes that come with The First Sunday. The same way parents buy new clothes for their children (some for themselves as well) to wear on Christmas day, the same honour and respect is given to The First Sunday. This also means feasting on lunch. While the rules are not as stringent as they are regarding the Christmas day feast, a meal is expected nonetheless. Most people opting to keep to Sunday’s seven colours standards.

Perhaps some people believe that if they conform to the The First Sunday and all its standards, surely goodness and mercy shall follow them all the days of the year (well just until the end of November to make way for Dezemba! For ever and ever.

Or maybe you’re like me and never given it much thought until recently, “Do I want to partake in the festivities of The First Sunday?” If not, that’s okay. Festivities are personal and I should work out my own festivities. “Do I do what I do on The First Sunday just because this is how my mother has always done it? Just because her mother’s mother did it this way? And her mother before her also did it like this?” Fact is today is the first Sunday of a new month, in a new year and that comes once a year!

Global Citizen

Let me start off with a disclaimer: Before we hosted the 2010 Soccer World Cup, my knowledge about the sport was very minimum. The handful number of players from the National team that I did know, was as a result of their activities outside the soccer field which landed them on tabloids magazines. Let me put it this way, if you had asked me about soccer then, I would have added the song Shibobo by TKZee featuring Benni McCarthy just to score much needed points on the topic.

While I learnt about the game, I joined in with the rest of the country, I flew the South African flag and wore my soccer jersey proudly. You could feel the camaraderie in the air which transcended across race, gender or even age. The Soccer World Cup belonged to all South Africans and all who live in it, see how I just echoed the Preamble of the Freedom Charter there?

In 2018, Mzansi is at it again. The world is coming to our shores on the 02nd November which is exactly a week from today. The Motsepe Foundation is presenting and hosting the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100. The mission of the Global Citizens (all stakeholders i.e. individuals, private and public companies and other legal entities) to unite and end Hunger and Poverty. “For everyone to have human rights simply because they are human,” United Nations Population Fund. Furthermore, to create policies which afford Finance and Innovative programmes in all parts of the world. For Girls and Women not to be disadvantaged because of their gender. Citizenship is also high on their list of priorities along with access to Health care; hygienic Water and Sanitation and a safe and clean Environment.

What is the significance of this international event being hosted in South Africa this year? This year marks Nelson Mandela’s Centenary. “I am pleased to lend my support to the Global Citizens Festival: Mandela 100, in celebration with Madiba’s rich legacy of social justice, compassion and activism. Each one of us must take inspiration from his fight for equality by being the generation to end extreme poverty. We must ensure that no child or adolescent die from preventable causes, including hunger and malnutrition. I call on the world leaders, civil society organizations, business leaders and change agents everywhere to join the Sustainable Development Goals.” Graça Machel.

While we applaud all the influential celebrities both local and international from musicians such as Cassper Nyovest to Beyoncé, JayZee, world Oprah Winfrey, Naomi Campbell and Trevor Noah, the call is for all to be change makers. Lend your voice and be heard because it cannot be done without the collective.

In Letters to My Daughter: Dr. Maya Angelou describes a philanthropist by breaking the word down into two Greek words, philo –lover of; and anthro – mankind so philanthropists are lovers of humanity. Is that not who you are? When you love, you give and giving is not only in the form of money but rather giving of your time and even your voice. Nelson Mandela was conscious of the fight he had to embark on, in his lifetime. Now I ask each of us, what is our fight? The good fight that we have a responsibility to participate in?

There are countless ways you can be involved. You can bring a change in the lives of girls who stay home and miss school because they cannot afford sanitary pads. You can hold world leader accountable by signing relevant petitions and sharing videos on Twitter, see the Global Citizens page https://www.globalcitizen.org

Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir, perhaps you’ve long been doing your part. Just like in 2010, you were were wearing your yellow soccer jersey and blowing your vuvuzela long before the spotlight was upon our beloved Mzansi. In the same Letter, Dr. Angelou says, “I am encouraged to write on because from time to time, the choir does need to be uplifted and thanked for its commitment. Those voices need to be encouraged to sing again and again, with even more emotion.” To those who have yet to begin, now you know better, so let’s better.

House guests, how far do you let them in?

#Holiday vibes#, #personal space#

You don’t just become a guest in someone’s home because you knocked on the door. A guest is a person you invite to your home, to a party or special event. That’s not my interpretation, its from the Dictionary. A visitor is described as a person who goes to see another person or place for a short time, again that’s not me. This means the two words are not synonyms of each other, there is a difference.

With the holiday season fast approaching, there are many festivities which will be held in various places. From weddings, to company’s year-end functions all the way to informal gatherings like a braai at a person’s home. However, you can’t just show up because you know the address. Yes, ’tis the season to be jolly fa la la la but that does not permit you to just show up. No matter what day of the year. Wait for an invitation or better yet, make prior arrangements and inform the person you wish to visit.

You might say, “Where’s your sense of Ubuntu? That is not how we were raised.” Oh trust me, I was raised decent, that’s why I say, “Come in” and open the door.

Do you go to a wedding without being invited? Do you know that knowing the person who’s hosting does not warrant you to attend, whatever the event. Or do you stop talking to someone because they haven’t invited you to their new home which they moved into early this year? Really

My father, uMzali, believed that a visitor ought to gladly accept whatever was being offered. When buying groceries, he bought coffee (which no one drank at home) and a few boxes of tennis biscuits especially for visitors. My mother on the other hand, had a completely different view. To her, the very act of a person coming into their home deserved the best treatment, forget the logistics.

Not according yo Mzali and it didn’t matter whether you were family, a friend or even part of the in-laws, if you hadn’t told anyone you were coming, kindly enjoy the tennis biscuits and don’t overstay your welcome. My mother often baked cookies telling us they were for visitors but they never lasted more than a couple of days. As the children, we waited impatiently until Mzali got home. The smell of home baked cookies would greet him and he would ask my mother for just a few, to taste. Then we’d ask him for a taste. Cookies for visitors?

When we were expecting guests however, Mzali was the most welcoming host. He would agree with my mother to prepare the cookies and that was just the starter. The duration of the visit and all other logistics had been agreed upon. The person was coming because he wanted and agreed for them to come. He would even plan an excursion so that the guest would have a memorable time with us.

The irony about visitors is that they can be so demanding. Asking for fresh milk instead of powder, cool drink instead of juice or hot sauce instead of tomato sauce. When in reality, they should politely accept or decline (preferably before we set up those glasses that are reserved especially for visitors and guests).

If it acceptable that when you enter any establishment which is for public use, there are terms and conditions one must adhere to. For example, the mall, closes at a certain time. Unless you are in the designated areas such as the food court or cinema, if you are found anywhere else after hours, you can be asked to leave because you’re trespassing. However, when it comes to our own homes, people do not accept it when you choose to exercise your right to be welcoming and to what extent. You might ask me, how do I handle visitors and guests? I am my father’s daughter. Right of admission is reserved. Don’t just show up.

Technophobic Blogger

#Technology Never Loved Me#

Dear Fellow Bloggers

I’m a Blogger who hibernates. That’s the term I use to explain that I still live under the big Stone Age rock. I prefer writing a letter to going on social media platforms. I am aware of the times we’re living in so from time to I walk the streets of Technology to get in touch with the rest of the world.

I need your help. I accidentally deleted a post from my blog. “Google it” you say…I did but Technology and I don’t have a cordial relationship.

How does one retrieve a deleted post?

It has been declared spring cleaning day

#TheBeautyofBeingBlack#

Let’s be honest if you’re a South African black child, growing up, you’ve been privy to witness your home undergoing an extreme makeover. I’m talking about that day when all the household blankets and bedding are washed even the ones you were snuggling under just moments before. Talk about a rude awakening and that’s just the beginning!

Next are the curtains. Seeing each and every curtain drop to the floor or even worse, being told to do that task. Subsequently, leaving the dirty windows exposed so its very clear to you that those too, need to be washed. Then you have to put up (literally), a different set of curtains and bedding.

Never mind what you had planned, the authorities (Mother, Gogo, Aunt, Older Sibling) over your life have declared it spring cleaning day! It was immaterial that there was a Helper who was paid to keep the house clean, you had to be involved in the execution of this mission. It didn’t even have to be at your own home. You could be visiting your Gogo’s house or ka Mam’mkhulu and find yourself in this predicament. Your consent was never required but best believe, you were expected to be an active participant.

Back to the bedroom. You have to face your wardrobe. All that shoving of your clothes finally catches up with you because now you have to take everything out, hang what needs to be hung, fold every T-shirt and put your socks in matching pairs. Oh wait, the washing machine really didn’t eat your sock, it was in this pile of clothes all along. The advantage is finding that piece of clothing that you absolutely love and thought had gone AWOL. The disadvantage though, is that you can’t share your joy because you’ll be exposing yourself.

Then there’s the sitting room, that’s what the living room is referred to, which housed the gigantic room divider. That’s where the television, the glasses and a collection of brasso (named after the liquid polish used to make it shine) were displayed. You were forbidden to use these glasses because they were reserved for special occasions or visitors.

Let’s head to the kitchen. If your fortunate, the fridge was “defrosted” and cleaned a day before or so. If not, remember that needs to be attended too as well. You had to tackle the cupboards. Taking out all the contents before thoroughly cleaning the inside. If your Gogo is like mine, you’ll find a lot of empty mayonnaise and peanut butter glass jars inside. “It goes without saying…” says the Master Cleaner who’s been following you around the house telling you what to do and how to do it, “…that the outside of the cupboards must be wiped clean as well.”

Don’t forget to clean out that space in the house designated for newspapers and magazines. There was no clear direction as to what ought to be done here. Keep, burn, throw away in the dustbin, or can I finally cut out the pictures of the beautiful houses, clothes and food for my house book?

During the cleaning, it’s best you don’t complain or ask too many questions. For example, if you complain about the intensity of the workload, you were told how your generation has it far much easier than they did. “Why do we have to do all this cleaning?” I asked. “We’re preparing for the December holidays and we’ll be having visitors.” I was told. “Who’s coming?” now curious as ever. “We don’t know yet but visitors will always pass by especially at this time of the year.” All this effort, for someone who you don’t even know?

Mzali….no ordinary father

There was absolutely nothing ordinary about my father. We all called him Mzali from the word umzali meaning parent. When I say all, I mean over and above his fifteen children. It wasn’t enough that I had to share him with fourteen other children but he was parent of the nation. From our family members at large, to our friends, to his friends’ children. Let’s just say he was uMzali to the general population.

In hindsight, I still don’t understand how he gave us the lifestyle that we had. We lived well and went to great schools. Most importantly, he had time for us and built solid relationships with each of us. I know you’re asking how so let me break it down for you. He had four children from previous relationships. Then he had two wives. Five children from his first wife and two children from his second wife, my mother. Moreover, he had two children from his Miss Lady then the other two each have their own mothers.

When the reality show uThando Nes’thembu premiered on television last year, most of my friends said they were finally going to understand how I grew up. In reality, that is not a depiction of my family but the Mseleku’s. They have their own dynamics, some even I can’t relate to. I come from the Mkhwanazi family and the way Mzali ran things was different.

Throughout his life, Mzali had various businesses. He was what we now call an entrepreneur. When I was growing up, he was running a supermarket (which he referred to as the spaza shop). Situated right inside the busiest taxi rank in Tembisa. It was our family headquarters, the common ground. The place he spent most his time. He didn’t subscribe to the notion of having a cellphone and even though there was a landline at the shop he preferred face to face encounters. The shop was open not just for business but that was our other home. So you could say I grew up at the taxi rank.

Each day promptly at 6am, he personally opened the doors regardless whether it was a weekday, weekend or even a public holiday and closed at 8pm.We had to work at the shop. Not always, perhaps two Saturdays a month. Imagine being woken up at 4 am on a Saturday. Back then we were kids and did not appreciate the lesson. Well, I know I didn’t but my older brother Thulani, loved it.

Mzali took time to know our individual preferences as his children and made sure we each had time to fully enjoy doing what we loved. The only condition was that we had to do whatever activity together as siblings. You must be mindful that some of my eldest siblings were in University and no longer living at home. Depending on the excursions of the day, it would be a delight to others and dreadful to the rest.

One of my favourite things to do with Mzali was to read. Each morning, he bought all the newspapers. During the weekend, we each had a turn to read out loud for him. Mzali also insisted that we were a part of the community library in Edenvale. The rest of my siblings begged and pleaded to go anywhere else. For me, we were going to my happy place.

My younger sister Gugu, child number 13, loved the outdoors which meant we also went swimming and to the park. You might be wondering what type of car Mzali drove to accommodate all of us. He drove a van which he said was convenient for his line of work. In the 1990’s, if you ever saw a red van with a lot of kids at the back, chances are that was Mzali with his tribe.

Like a typical parent, Mzali embarrassed us more times than I care to remember. When puberty began, I went with him to buy my first training bra. Feeling extremely self-conscious about walking around the underwear department with my father, he took out a bra from the rails held it up and started educating me about the difference between an A and B cup size! Then he asked the sales lady to measure my bust. That’s not the worst of it. On another shopping expedition with Gugu this time, when it was time for him to pay, he put a big money bag filled with just R2 coins on the counter. To our shock (not just my sister and I but the cashier’s as well) he began counting the coins in rows of R50. Can you imagine, we were at Woolworths! We wanted to die as he kept pointing at us telling all those waiting in queue that he just had a small spaza shop and just wanted to buy clothes for his girls. We didn’t say a word all the way home while he was very pleased with himself! On another occasion, Gugu and I went out partying at night during the December holidays. The next day after giving us a lecture about wanting the best for us, he then took us to his barber and told him to cut our hair He didn’t even give us a chance to unplait. Just like that it was goodbye December holiday plans because we had to say goodbye to our hairstyles.

Recently, we had a huge family gathering of all the Mkhwanazi family members who are now living all over the country. For some, it was the first times meeting them. We were told how we are all related and shown the family tree. I heard countless stories from different individuals much older than I about how Mzali had helped them apply to school when they first relocated to Johannesburg.

Mhambi Alfred Mkhwanazi known as Mzali, a man who lived large. Who worked hard and played even harder. Thank you for not just telling us but embodying what a father is. Thank you for the lessons and for the love. I am simply because you once lived. May you rest in eternal peace.