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.