Ching Ching…

Money makes the world go round. So the saying goes. Yes, money can buy one a few friends; it can even get one out of a pickle with the SAPS or the Metro Police. Never been popular with the ladies? Relax son, ‘nothing that a few millions can’t fix! As Mandla “the King Don father” Spikiri once sang, “Fak’ imali Uzobona!” Sadly, no amount of money can buy one class or style. It is one of those things that one either has or not.

I realized after two similar incidents my problem with individuals who have an acute deficiency of modesty. These are people who are prone to unnecessarily, and without much provocation, go on boasting sprees about their material possessions. These are also people who like to hear themselves talk and rubbing other people’s noses in how much their Jimmy Choos, Burberrys, Tom Fords, Breitlings, etc. cost.

Anyway, the first of the incidents referred to was a social media hook-up with a home-boy of mine, someone I met during my high school years. The reunion was filled with the relevant pleasantries and catching up; it was wonderful to hear that life was going well and his personal successes testimony of that.

Well, it was hunky-dory until the constant posting of photos showing high-end time pieces with a shameless exhibition of the cost. Then it was a Gucci sweater with the price tag still on (for effect). The last straw was when the guy candidly posted about the amount he spent on petrol in one week and “record” mileage during the same period (just in case we didn’t know; just in case we were curious about his out-of-this-world travelling habits). Thankfully, social media has its advantages…DELETE!

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The second incident involves a TV reality series. I can only say that the actions of the groom on last week’s episode of Our Perfect Wedding left a foul taste in my mouth. Described by his gushing, er, bride as a well-heeled tenderpreneur; his good looks seemed to fade with every opportunity he used to remind his service providers, including wedding guests that he was paying for it all. “Play me that song; I want it at my wedding (I paid for it).” Is it not similar to someone taking you to a restaurant and treating the staff with disdain in an attempt to impress you? WTF?

I have no qualms with moneyed people, let alone how they choose to spend their money. They are well within their rights to spend their (I assume) hard earned capital however they wish to. However, I do have a problem with some in the “New Money” league regarding their apparent lack of money etiquette. One would have to go back into the history of previously disadvantaged groups to gain insight into the impact of poverty on people’s relationship with money.

The results vary, if you consider how inconsequential material possessions are to some wealthy individuals with humble backgrounds as opposed to the value they add to society. Individuals with an exaggerated sense of self-importance are especially off-putting: There is such tragedy in people acting like they have never smelled crisp bank notes; in behaviour that suggests that one had no idea they’d possess whatever material they have in their lifetime. What usually lies behind all the bravado is nothing more than insecurities and fledgling egos. Surely there is some growing up that needs to happen here?

Unfortunately, some of us could really care less how much you spent on your Moët, we’d much rather you sip on it quietly.

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Lights, Camera…Drama!!!

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Nightmares don’t only come in the shape of old Freddy Krueger, nope. Those who have experienced the classic Baby Mama Drama (BMD) know all too well that nightmares can come along with endless strategic calls at 2 am in the morning, “to hurry up because baby’s temperature is high”. It lurks at every family gathering, skilfully surveying the grounds for the father of the children’s new squeeze; she mustn’t get too close to Mamazala (mother-in-law) now! They also know that the nightmare means business; therefore whatever is in the path is sure to experience destruction through manipulation, humiliation and bullying.

The “Baby Mama” is a term that loosely refers to the mother of a child or children. It speaks to me, my sister, cousins, girlfriends and many other women in the world. Thankfully, the opportunity to suffer BMD has not presented itself and with the sense that my sanity is generally intact, I think…we are OK! Fortunately, not every mother out there has drama, contrary to J.D. Slinger’s quote that “mothers are all slightly insane”-otherwise the calamity in this world would be massive.

There is no official definition for BMD except for many “working definitions” posted on the net by those whom I believe understand it, through experience. What we know for sure, though, is that some Baby Mamas (BMs) can make Freddy Krueger look like a clown because at least he is confined to Elm Street. He knows nothing about driving a wedge between two people by simply picking up the phone at ungodly hours or by dropping the child (ren) off when the pair has made plans to go out, or better still, baking a lekker tray of cookies that someone happens to like a lot. The dramatic BM is a girl on a mission.

Baby Mama Drama: “When the dumb-a** baby mama starts sh*t because she is jealous of the new woman. [The] baby mama probably got pregnant on purpose thinking she could hold onto the man-finds out ain’t nothing happening and gets mad”- Urbandictionary.com

(**PS: Matrics, please visit the Longman dictionary for any other definition if you know what’s best for you…thanksBye!)

While the focus is not on the shortfalls of black men in the parenting department, the correlation between that and BMD needs to be acknowledged. By doing so, we are not absolving some women’s irresponsible and mostly selfish attitudes when faced with a situation where they no longer form part of an intimate relationship with a man, in turn seeking to regain control by using children.

Take for example the story about the Kempton Park woman who staged a house break-in and kidnapping of a four month old baby boy who she passed off as four weeks old. It was reported that the child’s real mother reneged on their agreement for the former to pass the child as her own. Although the initial reaction was to feel sorry for the woman’s husband for being deceived like that, one also felt compelled to ask, “Where were you?”

Quite simply, that incident revealed the level of involvement or lack thereof and, therefore, begs the question as to whether BMD could be encouraged or fuelled by the fear that once the man walks out, his already fledgling involvement in the children’s lives will diminish? I reckon the bulging cases of child maintenance claims in our courts system have a story to tell.

We can make the assumption that BMD is somehow warranted, given the notoriety of African men on matters of fatherhood. However, it would be equally irresponsible to ignore the fact that BMD is seriously uncouth: It does nothing but reinforce the stereotype that black women are needy and domineering at the same time; that men are the be-all and end-all of our universe.

It has nothing to do with neither children nor their needs, but everything to do with humiliating, dividing and conquering other people (and making a fool of oneself). One thing for sure is that failure to look beyond the end of a relationship almost always creates such situations.

Nothing can justify Baby Mama Drama. Nothing. We all have a responsibility to grow up –and to take responsibility for our actions.

When the Going Gets Tough

I recall how, on some mornings during my commute to work, the taxi drivers would play “dikosha tsa Pitori”. Now, I will never understand this particular genre of “music” but it’s best to acknowledge (and make peace with the fact) that there are simply different strokes for different folks. All I know is that it is never played at low levels and a tension headache was most guaranteed on those unfortunate mornings of boarding a taxi blazing such.

There’s one particular song that has remained in my head, though, purely because of its ehm…lyrical content. The singer -in that mess of auto tune infused with a pseudo-Maskandi-do-it-quick type of singing- laments the day his partner ‘slapped’ him with divorce papers. It is nothing short of amusing that even when the lyrical matter is of a sombre nature, the music demands that one dances anyway!

It would appear that people are slapping one another with divorce papers like it’s going out of fashion lately, and if recent conversations on various media platforms are anything to go by then our country is facing virtual implosion. Unlike the catchy sound of the Kosha ya Pitori, there is nothing amusing about the data released by Statistics SA in December 2012 about divorce trends in our country.

According to a summative report by law firm Abrahams & Gross Inc., “more than 20 000 children are affected by divorce each year”. It is reported that 37. 9% (7 719) of those categorically fall into the African segment of the population.

Irreconcilable differences resulting in divorce include, amongst others; finances, lack of communication, infidelity, sexual problems, alcohol/ drug problems, etc. The revelation that more and more black people are getting divorced has introduced an interesting dimension to the divorce discourse.

This is especially the case because there seems to be an increasing inclination to attribute the current rates of divorce to how women conduct themselves in this age, and thus, to our emancipation. Not only do these assertions come from men, but women as well. This is essentially problematic if we denounce patriarchy on the one hand and feed into it on the other.

One gets the sense that women are solely responsible for keeping the institution of marriage together, which, by the way has been the case for many centuries. The custom of “go laya” which is done as two people enter into marriage is a form of counselling done by elders. To the woman, the aunties preach resilience as a marriage survival mechanism. He cheats? Don’t worry, “ke selepe” (an axe), he’ll come back. How about finances? No worries; his pay cheque is his business. It goes on and on…

Having attended a training session once, the conversation in the room at some point drifted towards infidelity. The facilitator, a man, had no qualms with discussing how women in the noughties ‘give freely’ of themselves and want everything on a silver platter. Again, that argument has its merits and that is possibly another issue pushing up the rates of divorce; the nature of instant gratification, as well as the disappointment that sets in once the bubble bursts.

The discussion around infidelity was inevitable, and it was not surprising that the facilitator’s view was that infidelity is acceptable when committed by a man rather than a woman. I suppose this means that women are held to high esteem in that regard? I’m not certain whether this is meant to elicit some sort of grateful response; whether one ought to feel like they are given a huge deal of respect. It is nothing but patronising.

It remains clear that despite the ever changing social landscape within which we exist, patriarchy remains what it is and for this reason it will always be at loggerheads with the former in its quest to remain relevant.

The statistics themselves paint a bleak picture, especially with consideration to the number of children affected. Divorce can be quite traumatic for children, especially when it is of a hostile nature. However, we cannot avoid that sometimes divorce is absolutely necessary because staying in a loveless and mutually unsatisfying marriage is just as detrimental to all parties involved.

X Marks the…

As we look forward to next year’s polls, -what with some of us being first time voters- I can’t help but think how there are more questions than answers when it comes to the current state of South African politics. I can effectively say that I have no clue who I intend to vote for.

This is not because our country is spoilt for choice (that would have been wonderful), but because we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. More so that some would rather keep their right to vote to themselves than vote for any of the political parties campaigning at this point.

This will not deter some of us who intend to vote, even if it comes to an “eenie-minee-mo” situation, something HAS GOT TO GIVE! When Dr. Mamphele Ramphele launched the “political platform” AgangSA earlier this year, there was a lot of certainty on my part about who I would be voting for.

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With her struggle credentials, corporate leadership experience, own money and racial inclusivity, this woman made sense to me. So strong was my conviction that I swore I would become a card-carrying member; hell, even I was surprised. I have never been interested in party politics.

I have to admit, though, that the effervescent euphoria initially felt has all but fizzled. For starters, the strange voyeuristic feel of this political party was problematic, perhaps it’s one of those things that one needs to get used to.

Then again, the Patricia De Lille’s of this world also sported their peachy smiles all over street posters for a long time before that marriage to the DA. It is arguably a one-(wo)man show, with the rest just handling the logistics and sundry bits, preferably, for the middle class citizens of this country. Not really inclusive now, is it?

Let’s not forget the proposal to review BEE policies from its very beneficiary. At least we are familiar with the fact that hypocrisy is by and large a prerequisite for any politician.

When the brain-child of none other than BigBaby aka Julius Malema, EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) was born, I was sceptical. After being stripped naked by the ruling party (with good reason) and the Receiver of Revenue, it wasn’t hard to see why Malema would clutch at straws. So goes his rhetoric about fighting for the “under-dog”; the poor, the disenfranchised, the working class.

Perhaps it is easier to mobilise these groups and to declare shared empathy now that Malema himself has descended from his splendid Sandown mansion’s balcony views. There are many corners of society, particularly the liberal cliques that are quick to shoot this party down as nothing but a get-together of fools with highly romanticized ambitions. Ambitious, it is. So are the radical policies on land reform, nationalisation and expropriation of land. I wouldn’t be so quick to do so, however.

The question is whether the EFF’s policies appear absurd because of Malema’s leadership? Is this vehicle likely to sink simply because of who is in the driver’s seat and not necessarily because society does not recognise the need for such policies to be tested?

I reckon it is naïve to assume that those who have joined (or support) the EFF need to have their heads examined, or that they lack intellectual capacity. It would also be naïve to assume that those with vested interest in maintaining the status quo as far as land ownership is concerned wouldn’t want to fight tooth and nail to keep it that way.

Most importantly, it would be virtually irresponsible to let some individual who has obvious personal scores to settle with the ruling party, and never mind a long trail of greed and rot behind him lead us anywhere. Some of us were born semi-shackled. That is, not quite as politically energetic as the 1976 generation yet not as politically indifferent as the Born-frees’.

I harbour little emotional attachment to the ruling party except for the nagging need to hold them accountable for their actions because they have direct impact on ordinary citizens. Credit can be given where it is due and criticism likewise.

I am more eager than ever to put an X on the ballot paper next year because of the increasingly arrogant stance of the ruling party. It will be more an exercise in getting the chip off their shoulder than one in acknowledging that AgangSA or EFF resonate with me. They have yet to prove their stripes.