Archive for February, 2012

Ramblings of an Idle Busy Mind

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

Arrogance sunk the Titanic, not an iceberg. Its engineers said that not even God could sink the ship. When you start thinking you’re infallible, you’ve already self-destructed. Its just a matter of time

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The more I grow up, the more I realise what rich roots I have. No, I’m not a trust fund baby! I’m talking about something way more important. Heritage. Imvelaphi.

Growing up, I had the privilege of having multiple backgrounds which all gave me a strong grounding for life.

My mother was born and raised in a rural village called Qombolo in the Eastern Cape and my father, in a township called Lingelihle in Cradock. In my formative years, my mother made sure that most of my school holidays were spent in either one of these two environments to know where I came from.

Both these environments taught me the meaning of ubuntu. The meaning of “umntu ngumntu ngabantu” – you are who you are because of other people. In both the village and township community, everyone knew their close and distant neighbours by name. When you ran out of sugar at home, you send a child to kwaMamQwathi, the neighbour to go “borrow” a cup of sugar. The neighbour gave it to you, knowing that the ‘borrowed’ goods would never come back.

And when you had visitors that were more than your small house could handle, you’d ask your neighbours to host them for the night. When you left your house unattended for a few days, there was no need for Red Alert Neighbourhood Watch because your neighbours would guard your house for any suspicious behaviour.

I remember one Christmas, I was about 13 years old, my uncle took us on a tour of Tsojana, another village which is my also my home. In the scorching sun, he showed us the forest and the mountain and told us the lineage of our great grandfathers who traversed the luscious green Transkei hills on horseback. How they enjoyed a simple life. ” My children, no matter how far you progress in life, don’t ever forget your roots. Don’t forget where you come from” he would say.

Despite these ‘ humble’ beginnings, I was always encouraged to dream big and aim high.
My father….(who passed away when I was less than a year old) believed that the only way a Black child could have a decent shot at making it in life, was to get a good education. He was an educator…and became a school principal before he was 30. He loved education.

Two other uncles of mine nurtured my love for books and for school from a young age. At 4 years of age, my uncle would buy me puzzles for 6 – 7 year olds to stimulate my mind. Throughout my schooling career he always encouraged me to aim to come first in class…nothing less. They never crucified me for coming 2nd or 3rd, but as long as my name was amongst the Top 10. They knew that if excellence was my ‘ bare minimum’ , I would not struggle to access the opportunities that ‘ good marks’ could unlock. They knew that if I had decent marks and the right guidance, money (or lack of it) could not inhibit me going for my dreams. They taught to never, ever despise my race…..and to never let anyone else limit my capability because of my skin colour.

My first year University tuition fees were converted to a merit bursary based on my Matric symbols. My second year study loan was converted to a bursary because of my marks.
My fees for my Honours Degree were fully paid for by a scholarship. And I’m going to keep climbing the ladder of knowledge using the mind that God has blessed me with and that many other people have helped to sharpen.

God-willing, I’m going to continue to build my dreams in high places……in the clouds to be specific…..while keeping my feet in the rich soil and dusty township gravel that form my foundation and keep me grounded. I may live in a suburb but iilali nelokishi are in me. And I thank my mom for making sure that I never lose that. She also taught me that the ground (kneeling on the ground to pray) is the best way to navigate. From my grandmother uMamBhele to uMaKhumalo, my mother, evening prayer was the order of the day at home. Someone once said ” He who kneels before God, can stand before anybody”

I’m no life coach, but as I enter another year my motivation and advice is ” Keep your head in the clouds and your feet firmly placed on the ground”

Oscar Wilde once said discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.
Discontent is that feeling you get and then you think to yourself “There has to be more for me in this life”. It’s that cliff-hanger at the end of all the little scenes out of our daily lives. What breeds this feeling, one may ask. Is it ungratefulness and the inability to count and recognise one’s existing blessings? I am no award-winning writer or pop-psychology guru, so I will only speculate and speak for myself. Discontent is bred by ambition and the desire to realise one’s true greatness and potential.

It is a scientific fact that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It is always stored and then converted from one form to another. It’s a beautiful co-incidence that stored energy is scientifically referred to as potential energy. I believe that greatness is the same as this potential energy. It cannot be destroyed or created if it was never there. But when it is stored and utilised, it becomes like that restless energy waiting to be released or used or transferred to another form. This form can be a great idea, a challenge or a task which others have dismissed as ‘impossible’.
This restless energy or discontent is only felt by the person in whom the greatness is stored.
It may not be latent for everyone to see, but it exists nonetheless. People often make the mistake that the great ones are the ones who woo the world with eloquent words or an extroverted personality. Greatness can reside in silence. Strength can be present in gentleness. But in whatever form it may reside or be stored, it will inevitably be released.
In the Bible, the prophet Elijah had to wait in a cave for God to pass through. God told him to wait for a sign to confirm that it really was Him who has passed through. A huge wind, a fire and an earthquake followed, but God was not in any of these loud “ra ra!” dramatic occurrences. A while thereafter, the gentlest breeze came through the cave and God was in it. God was that still, small voice that whispered instead of shouting for attention. A voice that was still and steady, gentle and discerning but still great.

So when you get the feeling that there has to be something more for you in life, when that aching feeling of discontent knaws at you as you live your daily life, it probably means that there IS more for you. More to achieve. More to give. More restless energy that is waiting to be unleashed. Unleash it. Harness it. Convert it into something tangible that will make a difference to the way others think, the way they do things and maybe how they view the world around them.

Colour me Blue, Don’t colour me at all

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Old stuff
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I unequivocally reject the notion of blue being the colour of sadness. It seems that this science of giving moods a colour can be off the mark at times. Today, I had the Monday greys. I don’t know who came up with the concept of Monday blues, because this morning was a grey day. The sky was grey, with heavy, mushroomed, black clouds brewing up a storm. Had the sky had been blue, that would have been a sign of a good, sunny day, right?

Anyways, being in a laid-back, go slow mood (we’ve had a long weekend every week in the month of April in South Africa), I decided to let Katie Melua accompany me on my daily drive to my daily grind (that means job for all the non-Capitalists). She is (apparently) a blues singer – once again classification according to colour. Blues music is a genre associated with sadness and heartache. Which got me thinking ‘can music have a colour?’ The answer came to me in less than a minute through Melua’s lyrics in her song,Spider’s web:

“The piano keys are black and white.

But they sound like a million colours in your mind”

She could not have put it any better. She refuses to let her music be coloured or classified. Maybe the executives at the record company call it blues, because they need to be able categorise it into a neat genre to analyse sales trends on their charts and spreadsheets. But to me, music cannot be blue, its really sounds like a million colours in my mind.

Like Katie, I reckon music cannot be coloured as it can evoke more than one emotion to both performer and listener. If I listen to blues, it will not necessarily make me feel sad. Maybe reminescent or nostalgic, maybe even regretful, but not necessarily sad. At times, the so-called blues music can tickle me silly. One of Melua’s other songs “On the road again” and Elvis Presley “Heartbreak Hotel” are two blues songs that not only tickle my ears, but even make me dance. You see, not all blues will make you want to slit your wrists. So I assert my opinion, putting a colour to music or a mood is a futile exercise. Music has the ability to evoke more than one thought or emotion in our minds and hearts – whichever organ you use to listen to it.

So to me the argument of using colour to define a mood or genre is a weak one. So in protest, I refuse to let myself have a blue Monday or even a grey day. I refuse to listen to let my music be coloured. I will paint my music, my day and the easel of my life with whatever colour I please. If that makes the psychologists turn red, maybe they should stop trying to paint everybody with the same paintbrush.

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