Reputation Matters

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My late teens were arguably the most tumultuous and complex years of my life. There was a lot going on; most of which resulting from the apparent lack of control I had over my life then.

The word “angry” soon became synonymous with my name. The regularity of being called angry bothered me. Did it come from a valid place? Was it true? Could I fix it? Why would I want to fix it?

Yes, I was angry. ‘Probably have been my entire life. I poured most of it out in my journals which proved to be very therapeutic. I knew then what I know now -that you can never be in control of the world’s perception of you.

It also makes one’s life a lot easier to not obsess much about that. Either way, your character will always speak volumes.

An incident that occurred this week brought home the realization that my reputation is important to me. While I may not care how others perceive me in my personal life; I deeply care about how I am perceived in the professional realm. The idea of being relegated to the unreliable and untrustworthy lot got the adrenalin rushing, pulse racing and defense mode on. I needed to save face!

It is important to keep in mind that one’s reputation can make or break them; open doors or keep them closed. Many business people understand that trust is a very important currency in business.

Trust is key to building relationships, advancement and creating viable networks. None of these would pass without a good reputation in place. Hence, a good reputation is invaluable.

It isn’t surprising to see more and more businesses actively enlisting the services of PR agencies for Reputation Management purposes because, simply put-mistrust is costly.

The most recent example is the KFC Braamfontein meat scandal that saw the franchise scrambling to restore its image. They will probably not suffer a great loss of sales, but people will always wonder.

The good news is that a tarnished reputation can be salvaged… with a bit of extra effort.

G*

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It ain’t what they call, it’s what you answer to

W.C Fields once said, “It ain’t what they call, it’s what you answer to” (that matters).

Often, we react defensively to the perceptions that other people harbour about us. The degree of that reaction varies, depending on what we know and feel about ourselves. It also relies heavily on how much influence we think the external world has on our lives in general;how much it matters.

I recently listened to Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s powerful talk on why we should all be feminists. Long overdue, since excerpts of it were incorporated into Beyonce’s Flawless many moons ago. Anyway- I took away two points of discussion from the talk:

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  • “Feminist” is usually NOT a compliment- not when it emanates from patriarchal doctrine.
  • Feminists are viewed as angry women, who hate bras and men“.

These points resonated with me because earlier this year, I had a social media encounter with someone I know. This was after he posted a Facebook status stating:

“The Feminist: This type of woman can never be pleased by a man and she believes that men are the cause of all pains and sufferings of society. It is her strong belief that women are much more intelligent than men and are capable of doing things “the right way”. You don’t want to waste any time with this type of woman because anything that you do will always be negative to her.”

I only realised later that it was from a viral “article” on the Types of women men need to stay away from (or something to that effect). Then again, people also tend to share things and information that they relate to in some way or the other; information that could covertly or obviously speak to their own belief and value systems.

So, ‘friend put it out there- what I deemed “sexist babble”. Another young man bravely entered the fray and declared, “(Laughs). I love such women. I take them on and shred them to pieces”. The discussion then proceeded to questions from both men on my own stand against what was clearly a flawed view of Feminism.

The men cried foul, “indoctrination!!” , they said. The feminist woman deserves to be alone. Cry the beloved country!

However, the discussion took on an interesting turn- after explaining to the two gentlemen that feminism, in essence, is not male-centric. It is neither focused on the bashing nor emasculation of men but on the political, economic and social emancipation of women. It is about ensuring that women flourish to their full potential and are afforded equal opportunities.

It was highly amusing when it emerged that neither of the men knew what feminism is. One only decided to do an online search when he realised I was steadfast and confident in my argument (which only comes from knowledge), and admitted that he actually didn’t have a clue. He put the cart before the horse, sadly. I’m still waiting to see myself in pieces. I rest my case!

Studies have shown that the participation of women in the economy could raise GDP substantially. The International Monetary Fund recently released a report titled “Women, Work and the Economy”, which highlights the negative impact of gender inequality  on economic growth.

These are the important discussions we ought to be having, so we can create solutions. However, it appears that the patriarchists and chauvinists are too preoccupied with thoughts of being obliterated off the face of the earth by so-called “angry”, morally bankrupt and aloof women who will render them useless.

Instead of adopting a culture of collaboration at every level, there seems to be a fast decline into senseless competition. There’s now them and us. We’ve completely taken our eyes off the ball to engage in mud-slinging. Unfortunately, most of it comes from a misinformed place.

What do I answer to? -Fairness and equality. Merit and excellence. Integrity and responsibility. What do I NOT answer to?- Anything that seeks to pigeonhole me.

G*

Freedom Comes With Responsibility #NoToXenophobia

These statues, mounted at the National Heritage Project’s offices yesterday couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.

When our country is this volatile, it is important to reflect on where we come from…

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Cissie Gool and Abdullah Abdurrahman

Zainunnisa “Cissie” Gool was an anti-apartheid political and civil rights leader in South Africa. She was the daughter of prominent physician and politician Abdullah Abdurahman.

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According to the South African History Resource, Chief Langalibalele was “known as ‘Long Belly’ by Sir Garnet Wolesley, who could ‘never spell his infernal barbarian cognomen’. Langalibalele’s rebellion caused a crisis in Natal. It was described as ‘the most wonderful case of blunders for men past infancy to have made’ and strengthened Carnarvon’s case for confederation.”

Chief Langalibalele

Lest we forget what it took to attain our freedom; the liberties we enjoy today are indeed the culmination of collective efforts in and outside our national borders. Until we free ourselves from our mental chains and truly begin to see the world as a place that holds infinite possibilities through collaboration, then we will never be truly “free”.

Witchcraft, the Scapegoat

Despite the infamous Oscar Pistorius murder trial gradually shifting out of our collective psyche because we’ve just generally grown weary from all the waiting, it has served as an interesting lesson in-among other things- scapegoating.

Having browsed some texts where commentators posed the hypothetical question on what would have been had Oscar been Black; would he get the same kind of media coverage? Would he get a TV channel dedicated to him? Would he even be allowed to undergo psychiatric evaluation as an out-patient? Hell, would he have been able to afford the million bucks bail? I’d have to say that those are interesting but not particularly useful questions.

It has been rather intriguing how Pistorius has shifted the blame to everyone but himself for some of the events that have occurred in his life; from estranged friends, to the burglar in the toilet and his hand (God forbid it has a mind of its own!) for pulling the trigger. Never himself. Still, one can’t help but wonder whether a black Pistorius would have at least one more avenue to exploit. Perhaps he would believe in a third force, supernatural elements? Would he also blame witchcraft for his ‘misfortune’? Who knows!

Dwight D. Elsenhauser once said, “The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions”. Indeed it is easier for most people to shift blame to someone/thing else when backed up against a corner or when the heat gets turned up. While the assumption of responsibility forces one to take a hard look in the mirror and to confront the ugly truth, scapegoating on the other hand lends a comfortable cushion that allows the user convenient ignorance and denialism.

Human beings are interesting creatures, we love taking responsibility for all the good things that occur in our lives but rarely do the same with the undesirable, bad stuff. My last post discussed how deeply entrenched witchcraft belief is in our society (and in many other African countries as well). If you’ve been following the Farlam Commission into the Marikana massacre of 2012 you would have heard Mr “X”’s testimony about the extent to which supernatural belief played a role in the occurrence of gruesome and sadistic rituals carried out by miners in the run-up to the tragedy.

Not only did those beliefs prove fatal for security guards and policemen killed before, but ultimately for the miners themselves in believing they were invincible- a double-edged sword. There are many reasons why people believe in witchcraft, if we define witchcraft as acts of evil done purposely with the intent to harm others.

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However, there are two overriding factors that make the top of the list, that is, one is either successful or not. Success defined in terms of material, the reverence of community members, social status, etc. The former will believe that there are people who aren’t happy with that success and therefore will work towards causing harm or reversing this. The latter will believe that their lack of progress in life is a result of some supernatural conspiracy.

I can neither confirm nor deny. However, I can relate a personal story about being taken to a Nigerian prophet known for assisting people with these “things”. I clearly remember the look on my old man’s face as he told us of other-worldly things-stuff beyond us. It was shortly after my cousin dropped by to show us his new car.

There we were, my sister and I, in our mid-twenties (okay, late twenties in my case). Willing and able post-graduates. Unemployed. Stuck. Like hundreds of thousands of other graduates in this country. Somebody was panicking and it wasn’t either of us. I suppose witches were/are working over-time then? Never mind the socio-economic milieu or the level of corruption in our midst, there was something new we could seriously consider as the root and cause of our stagnation. It was someone else; someone close, the prophet said on our first meeting. Great!

Nervous conditions can create fertile ground for suspicion and paranoia, which may prove dangerous for people who are wrongfully accused of committing witchcraft. In the article “Victims of witch-hunts in South Africa are ignored, DamonLeff writes, “South Africa faces a growing refugee crisis as many victims of witchcraft accusation who survive assault are forcibly expelled from their communities by community leaders, traditional leaders and traditional healers, sometimes after being tried in traditional courts and found guilty through divination alone…

It is during the state of panic that a man’s character is revealed. When faced with the option of fight or flight, a lot of people choose the latter; which means we do not get the opportunity to explore the depth of our resilience…

Witchcraft: The Naked Story

I’ve been mulling over the subject of witchcraft for a while now; probably weeks on end. I guess it’s   pretty tough trying to wrap one’s head around things you’ll probably never understand. It’s worse when they are as old as time because, it would seem the more you try to understand the less you know. So, what do you do? Do you stop questioning, or keep pushing the lid? I choose the latter.

As I was sitting on a taxi headed back home one Friday evening next to an elderly woman, her phone rang, playing Umanji’s Moloi. I thought; what a rather odd song to load as a ringtone and…what a coincidence! All of this happening presented me with an uneasy predicament: I wondered whether this old woman really liked the song because of its catchy tune or that she genuinely identified with the content- that perhaps she felt vindicated by the song, somehow.

Umanji, the late South African folklore singer who was born in Zebediela, Limpopo province warns in the song “Witch” against people destroying each other unnecessarily with false assumptions. In this case, it is the idea that the witch is embodied by old; ugly and unkempt women. Conversely, he asserts that it is the college-going bunch that is beautiful and, seemingly harmless, that one must beware of.

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The late 1990s presented South Africa with a wave of witch-hunts, especially in Limpopo. Paging through that tabloid some of us love to hate on any given day gives one the impression that it hasn’t stopped. What’s clear is that the belief in the existence of the supernatural is firmly entrenched in many corners of our country.

Described by Media for Justice as, “a publication notorious for publishing untested rumour and unexamined accusations and allegations regarding the supernatural” Daily Sun is probably (at face value) a newspaper for the guy who’s lazy to read. It is not hard to imagine the guy at the bottom of the food chain having it in hand, whether for the purpose of reading or using it as toilet paper. It takes flak in intellectual conversations, if it even makes it there in the first place. Who in the upwardly mobile department wants to be associated with ‘nonsense’?

The truth is the belief in witchcraft seeps into many spheres. Although predominant in rural areas, its reach is indiscriminate with respect to social or financial status. It goes beyond religious commitment, education or even age. Of course much of the intent of religion is to fight spiritual warfare and therefore acknowledges that evil in its many forms exists side by side with good.

The most recent case in point is that of a senior cabinet reportedly embroiled in a messy divorce with his ex-wife. According to The Times, accusations of witchcraft and/or the “causing of witchcraft practices and rituals to be conducted” in their home were levelled against the respondent.

Now, I’ll have to admit that I’ve laughed off some rather absurd-sounding things like people being able to purchase lightning and other sinister things  destined for unsuspecting victims for as little as fifty bucks from openly public places like taxi ranks.

But some of the stories I have heard among peers and old folk alike can make for some chilling experience and quickly dampen the mood. One person recounted how they witnessed someone stark naked in another’s house in the dead of night. Manala, MJ explains that “The essence of witchcraft and sorcery is the causing of harm to persons or property by invisible means”. So “go tshwarega” is an expression describing a perceived witch being caught in the act, and possibly not being able to flee the scene. It is common belief that witches turn against their own people as opposed to strangers and driven by envy, malice and jealousy.

In all respects it is not easy to gauge the extents to which people can go when they feel that life has dealt them unfair blows in comparison to others. Therefore, it is easy to dismiss the belief in witchcraft as nothing more than unfounded accusations and rumours that could be averted by educating certain groups of people. Unfortunately, the issue runs far deeper and has created other societal challenges like ritual killings for muti and the sale of body parts.

It makes one realise that just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it does not exist. In the same breath, it’s all the more clear that whatever one believes manifests. Such irony…

 

 

 

 

A Step Back In Time

A love letter from Napolean Bonaparte to his love Joséphine de Beauharnais:

 

I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil.

Sweet incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart!

Yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire?

Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire.

 

Now, I know Valentine’s has passed its sell-by date for this year therefore cheapskates amongst us will have to wait next year to buy fake roses, illustrious mugs and other frivolous novelties. Imagine that; a freakin’ coffee mug in the middle of summer?! Well, that’s just life.

Anyway that’s beside the point. The past week or so has been an interesting one, especially because it gave me a bit of faith that chivalry (and I’m not referring to the wholesale hogwash we have to endure on February 14th) hasn’t kicked the bucket- just yet.

So I recently witnessed an acquaintance receive a stunning bunch of red roses on a crisp Monday morning. We’ll just keep guessing why because these days we are told that nothing’s for mahala (free) but at least two things can be ruled out. It wasn’t Valentine’s and it wasn’t her birthday. So, there is at least one guy out there in the universe who knows his thing. The brother deserves a Bell’s!

As it would occur, I hadn’t the faintest idea the following day would have a surprise in store for moi. Yes. A neatly folded love letter pushed under my door awaited me as I arrived from the office: The kind of letter that would put the likes of monsieur Bonaparte to shame. Hand-written. Check. Cheesy poem. Check. I solemnly swear my intention is not to make fun of anybody, least of all the guy who wrote that (long) note.

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I reckon it’s a special thing to be the recipient of a hand-written, properly thought-out letter in this day and age. I suppose the most probable reason it ended up under my door is because someone didn’t have my digits, otherwise I could have easily received a text to this effect: “I DIG U” –or something similar- in my inbox.

All that cheesy stuff left me rather red in the face. The sort of admiration that drives people to leave notes in strategic places can be sweet but a little…unsettling. It did take me on a nostalgic trip down memory lane when letter writing was still in style. That was way back when one would write the same letter over and over again, ensuring the penmanship was faultless. Perhaps you would sprinkle a little cheap body spray there for added effect, to enhance daydreaming.

It brought back memories of mother scolding me in primary school after she had found a letter from a boy in my dress pocket. Even of a time when another boy, in middle school got his cousin to write me sweet nothings inside a Sanlam card. So priceless.

Susan Tardanico writes that, “as human beings, our only real method of connection is through authentic communication”. More importantly, Tardanico emphasizes that with all the powerful social technologies at our disposal, we are more connected –and potentially more disconnected- than ever before.

And so my response to my new found admirer was a simple, “writing is not old-fashioned”. In fact, it is a breath of fresh air from the hybrid texting that we have comfortably adopted into every sphere of life. Hand-writing is one of those things we take for granted when it could easily tell a story about an individual. It can reveal if they are clumsy, hasty or careful, thoughtful and neat. The only thing we are able to tell is whether someone is lazy or not, determined by whether they’ll type “Um cumn ta C U” or “I am coming to see you”. Then again, we care very little about anything these days!

 

 

Between Cerebos & Celibacy

A recent conversation with a girlfriend of mine left me feeling like a deer caught in the headlights, as they say. Naturally, conversations around sex and sexuality aren’t very comfortable if one is venturing into unfamiliar territory. These only have a tendency of coming out if one is sufficiently inebriated or in the company of people they know well, and decorum established around this subject.

Anyway, my friend made a disclosure that left me with more questions than answers. I still don’t know what’s worse; revealing that one has been celibate for a couple o’ years and risking those awkward “what’s wrong with you?” moments or that you want some (like yesterday)and getting an equal reaction? She bemoaned being judged by people and, as per her observation, that even the slightest mood swing on a girl is blamed on her “dry” season. However, she reckons she can go past the ten year mark and I say, “Give that girl a Bell’s!”

Well, I certainly can’t say the same about yours truly…I need Jesus!

Sexual frustration is defined as, “the frustration caused by a discrepancy between one’s desired and achieved levels of sexual activity or what is referred to as involuntary celibacy”. In this corner of the earth it is affectionately code named letswai/cerebos, that is, salt. What we know is that, like anything linked to the thought process, sexual frustration is the manifestation of that- acknowledging it only serves as validation in the physical.

In his book “Woman Thou Art Loosed”, Pastor TD Jakes writes,  “It is sad to realise our society has become so promiscuous that many have mistaken the thrill of a weekend fling for a knitting together of two thirsty hearts at the oasis of a loving commitment”. Indeed we have become so hyper-sexualized and sex so easily accessible that the lines are increasingly becoming blurred. The mere thought of being a ‘victim’ of a tap-that-a$$-and-run situation and rampant sexual innuendos in many an inbox are enough to just make one close shop…err, I DID mention this would be a bit tricky, neh? Therefore, abstinence is arguably the best option under the circumstances.

But (and that’s a big BUT) abstinence does not mean that one is immune to getting “giddy” now and then. My friend admits that she’s had to keep herself heavily occupied with other things to avoid her thoughts drifting towards that direction. And it can become an enormous monkey on one’s back if permitted, can’t it? So, judging from the conversation I’d say she has effectively avoided experiencing sexual frustration. I haven’t… gulp!

It is fairly easy these days for singletons to hook up on a Friends-With-Benefits (FWB) basis to ward off otherwise lonely, cold nights.That is the rationale. Sometimes the rabbit does the job. Sometimes none of these works; not when what you’re looking for is more than a physical experience.I reckon that it’s easier to deal with sexual frustration when you’re not in a commitment because there aren’t inherent expectations.

According to Dr Karen Ruskin, “longing for sexual intimacy left unfulfilled in quantity and quality is a challenge and a taboo topic for many”. Oddly enough we still live in a world where the man is perceived as the one who always wants it and the woman (with disinterest) always ready to pop out a stack of headache pills from the bedside table. It is such a dangerous presumption that many men have their bubbles burst when they actually realise they’ve been cheated on. Le  rona rea e batla, hawu!

I truly envy my friend. With all the pressures of this world, it takes considerable will-power, conviction and strength of character to be abstinent. As I navigate the salty path of involuntary celibacy kicking and screaming and hollering I seek comfort in Bai Ling’s words: “Sex is like a bridge; if you don’t have a good partner, you better have a good hand”.

‘Couldn’t have said it better if I tried! 😉

Public Speaking for Dummies

“A good orator is pointed and impassioned”- Mark Twain

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gulp!

I’m not sure if anyone remembers the speech President Jacob Zuma gave on the Obamas’ first official state visit to the country? I’ll gladly refresh your memory, it’s the speech that prompted comedian Trevor Noah to joke, “When Zuma doesn’t use a script, you can see how he gets the ladies. He’s so much smoother. #NkandlaNova”

Indeed, Zuma delivered a rare, impassioned and seemingly unscripted speech. We were all impressed. Perhaps the President realized that he had no choice but to up his ante or risk being upstaged in his own yard by his US counterpart.

Barack Obama’s intrigue does not only lie in the fact that he is a tall, good-looking man who is the first Black president of the United States. It also lies in his impeccable oratory skills. Just the other day, I was cleaning the living room with the TV switched to the news as usual. As soon as Obama’s State of the Union Address came on, everything I had been doing no longer seemed that important.

Irrelevant as the address was, one couldn’t help but be drawn to the man; he certainly has a “Woza woza” effect about him. Obama could talk me into smoking ten bags of marijuana in one sitting and I’d still think he makes sense! Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words, “speech is power; speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel” certainly ring true.

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And so we always look on in admiration as people make public speaking seem like a piece o’ cake. I gave my first speech when I was about thirteen years old in front of fellow learners, their parents (and mine) and all my teachers. I had stood on that podium many times before as a member of the debate society, yet each time always felt like it was the first.

Each time, my stomach rumbled from anxiety, demanding a retreat to the loo. I still remember how daunting it is to stand before so many pairs of eyes. Stage fright is indeed one hell of a motherf*&@er!

However it was always the sight of my teacher, Missus Mmolutsi that eased my angst. She would sit strategically in one corner, silently urging me on to watch the tone of my voice and not look down at my notes for too long. She’d silently remind me to let my eyes travel around the room in order to connect with my audience and to avoid fidgeting with my hands.

With the SONA (State of the Nation) season on the way, it unfortunately feels like a bit of an anti-climax situation. Besides the dull state of affairs in our midst, we are so used to being dished up uninspiring, mundane technical speeches. Of course there is the occasional chuckle and naughty innuendo from our charming Number One, but the rest is like attempting to make a call on your mobile while standing in the middle of the Kalahari.

Can there be anything worse than having someone address you and getting sense that -just like you- they are hearing the speech for the first time? Yikes!Mr. President, Baba, we want to hear you in those speeches and not your faceless speech writer asseblief!

In this corner of the earth people generally love hearing the sound of their own voices. They will not stop talking until a good one-half of the room is snoozing or shifting their feet under tables to indicate their frustration.

Many people find public speaking intimidating; it is one of those things that some are born with while others need to labour on a bit more. Therefore, being comfortable in that space ultimately comes with practice. I reckon the best speeches are well researched, prepared; short and to the point.

As Ira Hayes puts it, “no one ever complains about a speech being too short”.

For tips on fine-tuning your public speaking skills see:

How Much Is Too Much?

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Gone are those days. When one had to wait to visit someone’s house in order to see their personal photo’s stacked in albums decorated with elaborate magazine cut-outs; when one had to wait for the next big family gathering to get wind of all developments. Same goes for waiting until the new school term to hear hot gossip about break-ups, hook-ups; new beef and whatever else mattered. You could say life was more…organic then?

The by-line for telecommunications giant MTN’s latest advertising campaign simply states, “Do something worth sharing”. I’ll tell you why it didn’t take very long for me to be hooked. Much as sales are the overall gauge of an ad campaign’s success (I’m still a Vodacom loyalist nomakanjani), there are other factors at play that can determine this.

In “The Elements of a Good Advertising Campaign” Jill Tooley writes that “One of the most important elements of a good advertising campaign is creating brand awareness. [Hence] the goal is to embed the company’s name and logo into the subconscious so that people remember you and all that you offer”.

Personally, the by-line itself compelled me to think about the border-less society that we live in, especially within the context of social media. It reminded me of early experiences when social media was just taking off. Yes, I reckon I was in-between relationships for a while, as my Facebook relationship statuses would prove. As if on auto-cue, congratulations or pity parties came and went.

Sometimes it would be rants about family, being under-sexed or cheated on, and even about being bored (those are the worst). With hindsight, I can’t help but wonder why. Experience has been a great teacher as these are things that I now avoid. It also helps to remember that silence is golden.

Question is: How many times have you over-shared aspects about your life, or even those of others’? Here’s a scenario of a conversation that took place on an Instant Messaging platform not so long ago. Gugu* sends me a picture of Clara*’s child- mind you, even in the absence of social media, Gugu’s reputation as a gossip-monger is unprecedented.

Firstly, we had no idea about Clara’s pregnancy (maybe don’t even care) and I wondered how she would react to having pictures of her “newborn” copied and pasted for anyone who cares to see. Hardly seconds later, Gugu sent a text profusely apologizing for over-zealously sending the photo since discovering she had been on the receiving end of a prank pulled by Clara’s first-born. As it would occur, the latter is still pregnant. I rest my case!

These may be minor things at face value but consider briefly more serious ramifications of this tendency. Wasn’t it those texts between suspended COSATU secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi and his subordinate that left him with egg on his face? What about rape videos?

Do we still remember the brutal gang-rape of a Soweto teenager about two years ago? What of school gang attacks? High ranking individuals caught in compromising situations? How about US PR executive Justine Sacco’s tasteless joke about AIDS and Africa? All it takes is a single click of a button and a receptive audience for these to go viral.

So, what is worth sharing? If it adds value to you and those around you and does not over-step the bounds of morality, why not?

(*names changed to protect my arse)

I Am Not My Hair…

Resolutions are the name of the game. At the beginning of each year we make them; to make good on them or break ‘em. After three wonderful years of wearing my hair in dreadlocks, I have decided to part ways with it. I have always been a gung-ho kind of person where hair is concerned, so getting the chop at least once a year never was problem.

But what I experienced while contemplating the transition has been a mixture of denial, internal conflict and bizarre dreams of having suspicious blonde tresses on my head. Is this where I’m heading? I wondered. I knew the day I professed how good my hair still looked and how fabulously “versatile” it is, that I would take it all off the next. Funny how I’m the last person I listen to sometimes!

from this...
from this…

What I experienced was similar to the end of a love-affair and being caught up in nostalgic rapture to prolong the inevitable. Let’s not forget the receding hairline (traction alopecia nightmares), the heat at the back of the neck in summer (but good for winter, yeah?), high maintenance, the build-up… need I say more?

I was facing another dilemma: To sell or not to sell? With January financial blues looming, the thought of selling the locks for a couple of thousand crossed my mind several times and seemed very attractive. Dreadlocks are fast becoming hot property this side, to the extent where poor souls are increasingly targeted by lazy sods looking to make a quick buck through hair-jacking. But I wanted to keep my hair!

So began the painstakingly long process of combing each lock out (took me a week). I was still to face my sister -giving me funny, disapproving looks each time she got a chance. I didn’t know this was a polygamous situation! This has certainly been a “unique” situation where just about everyone has discouraged the change, to the point where I have virtually felt imprisoned by my hair.

...to kinky fabulousity!
…to kinky fabulousity!

When the last one dropped, I felt a new found freedom- like taking a well-needed breath of fresh air. Change couldn’t have come at a better time. I was reminded that, in the midst of what the world tells you or even what they say about you, what truly matters is what you say to yourself. If we become too fixated on the physical (and the past), there is a good chance we stand to lose out on who we truly are (and living life fully in the present).

No hairstyle can determine who I am and therefore, who I’m not. It is a frivolous yardstick that some use to determine someone’s level of political and social awareness; of sexual liberation, who knows what other things a person’s hair can say about them!

For me, that’s one less resolution to worry about…on to the next one!