My most recent read is by Fred Khumalo, you’ll notice I am being intentional in my selection of authors, this book was an interesting read. The author is Fred Khumalo.
Fred Khumalo was born on 4 August 1966 in Chesterville, Durban KwaZulu-Natal, having grown up in the township he was exposed to a lot of crime from a young age, which urged him to focus on his education as a way to escape the violence and poverty that enclosed him. It was also during this time, as a young man, he remained focused on his studies throughout his childhood and decided to become a writer while still in high school.
Khumalo later graduated from DUT (Durban University of Technology) after studying journalism and completed his MA in creative writing at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, Gauteng) with distinction.
He is an accomplished author of both fiction and non-fiction books, as well as an award-winning journalist and columnist. He has also published several short stories in commercial magazines and literary journals like Drum, Tribute, Pace, and Staffrider. His journalistic work has been published in South Africa, Canada, and the United Kingdom (UK). He has achieved high acclamation and respect for his work.
The book if fictional and is inspired by the events of the SS Mendi.
The SS Mendi is a boat that sunk on the 21 February 1917, more than 600 men of the South African Native Labour Corps (SANLC) lost their lives in the sinking of theSS Mendi– the largest single loss of life for the non-combatants in the SANLC during the First World War.
The Mendi was carrying the SANLC to France, where they were to serve as essential support to the ongoing fighting, where the men would provide assistance with physical labor, when the SS Darro, a mail ship three times it’s size, struck the troopship, in thick fog 19km south of St Catherine’s Point on the Isle of Wight. The Darro survived the collision but the Mendi sank quickly, leaving 607 men dead.
Some were killed on the point of impact, many others drowned. The extent of the loss of life in the Mendi disaster established its status as a national tragedy in South Africa, which briefly overwhelmed racial divisions. The entire South African House of Assembly rose in silence on 9 March 1917 as a mark of respect.
The story which I won’t overly indulge you on, in hopes you’ll purchase the book yourself is excellent penmanship from Khumalo, which centers around the life of Pitso Motaung, a young man who had to find his identity in a world that was tremendously difficult to navigate. The book is an ode to all those who passed, the 607 men, that I would like to call heroes, who were brave and had been driven to fight in a war that was neither for their country and did not in any way contribute to their well- being.
Having lost their lives on this journey, so little was done to commemorate these men and the unlikely friendships that were struck, across all cultural divides and racial barriers, it is only much later that they were truly honored, I love this book as it is a tangible form of celebration and all the stories they carried. A timely contribution. GET YOURSELF A COPY FRIEND!
In Fred Khumalo’s words…
To the unsung heroes and heroines throughout history, in all wars known to man. But more specifically to those gallant souls who were aboard the ss Mendi when she went down.
It could be that issues on land, colonization and past injustices are not always discussed in a proper manner, we have in an attempt to “move on” or rather I should say… I, in an attempt to move on have not made time to do thorough research on such matters, trusting my high school history education to be enough, but is it?
I have had an interest in various issues these days and the issue on land is one of them. This book, Land Matters: South Africa’s failed land reforms and the road ahead, was written by Tembeka Nicholas Ngcukaitobi, who is a lawyer, public speaker, author and political activist. He is also a member of the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC). It holds some uncomfortable truths, that we can no longer turn away from. This book is a painful eye opener and is really thought provoking. I won’t give you all the good parts, in hopes you’ll get it and read it yourself, but I will indulge you on what was most interesting for me to read.
1. Colonization and dispossession
The history of colonial land dispossession began in 1652 at the Cape with the expansion of the Dutch colonial settlement established by Jan van Riebeeck on behalf of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Initially, he was authorised to set up a refreshment station for the company’s ships, but with the need for a more sustainable source of meat and vegetable supply more land was required.
Land was then seized from the Khoi Khoi and the San to accommodate the growing number of settlers. When the mineral revolution exploded with the discovery of diamonds and gold it gave the colonial government more pressure to consolidate and entrench its rule. The British and Afrikaner landowners and industrialists set in motion a process that would consolidate their wealth, while excluding people of color through legislative means.
2. Why is this still a problem 20 year after democracy?
Colonization dates back to the 1600s, our country was only set free from colonial reign about 20 years ago, so let’s do the math here quickly, there has been oppression and struggle for hundreds of years and liberation only after two decades. It is no wonder we are still having these conversations. I often hear people say “we should let go of the past” but is it that simple? When the horrors of the past are still prevalent, rearing their ugly head often, reminding us that much has to be done and it begins by acknowledging that just “forgetting about it” is not enough. It is actually a dangerous trail of thought dismissing the feelings of a group of people who never had a choice in what happened to them and are desperately grappling with the effects of the past.
3. Why Land?
Natural land is important to South Africa’s significant ecotourism sector. Land is the crux of identity. It provides a sense of belonging, an attachment to a place that’s “home” and associated with their culture. It is also a means of generating wealth, a means of sustenance. If well managed this could be a solution to various lingering problems in our country, such as poverty, housing and unemployment.
4. Has land reformfailed?
Yes, it has failed dismally, corruption has seeped in and has robbed what was meant to be a highly liberating moment. At this my heart breaks most.
5. The most interesting takeaways from the book
– The ownership of land is still telling of racial bias
– The ANC’s struggle and challenges with running a country after so many years of political tension is an issue we do not discuss enough, I sympathize with the leaders of the struggle, we always pick holes at what they stand for now, but could it be that when you are on “survival mode” for so long you don’t have the luxury of sharpening other aspects of leadership. I know they’ve had time to advance on this
– Banks that are internationally owned still hold so much power in land ownership, so much in fact, that the country is still largely owned by international countries
– Women’s rights as it pertains to owning land
– The land of the Zulu kingdom
– The URGENT need for solutions
When I travel it always baffles me to see how much land some own and how much others struggle to acquire land for themselves. A large portion of our population is so wealthy, but little is done to bring wealth or help to those who are in dire poverty, and NO I don’t mean just money, but rather skill, a passing down of knowledge, it could be my wishful thinking but it would make a world of a difference if people could make a shift from a selfish thinking that says “you’re on your own and I’m going to continue busking in this generational wealth” to rather thinking, “how can I help you generate wealth for your family? And alleviate poverty” Most own various hectares of land but only allocate a small portion to their workers, the very people who are vital to sustain that wealth, we are a society that thrives in manufacturing lack. THIS IS A HORRIBLE MINDSET! The government in as much as it is a vital tool, is not going to help us, not at the pace it is going now anyway, which is disheartening to say the least. In my opinion, land expropriation without compensation is not the answer, as a country we are still largely dependent on farmers for food security, it also would be a dangerous path, seeing as though we have no working structures in place to move forward.
I still have a glimmer of hope that some resolve will be found.
If the majority of this country believes in God we must remember he is just.
God is just. It is part of His character, this means He is always just. He cannot be unjust, and He defines and sets the standard for justice.
“We hear that God is love and God is holy more often than we hear that God is just. And we may readily agree that God sets the standard for love and holiness, but do we understand that He also sets the standard for justice? Pursuing biblical justice means we follow God’s way to make right that which is wrong, and we look to Scripture to define what is “right”
“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
All this to say this is an EXCEPTIONAL BOOK! BUY it, read it and pass it on start this conversation with solutions in mind, pray for SOLUTIONS!
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Hi friends, I have been swamped lately and I haven’t had enough time to compile a meaningful blog. So I’ve got a form of a ‘guest post’ today by Ann Voskamp, unfortunately it was taken down from her blog page, so the link I’ve provided is mostly other blogs from this amazing woman and whilst I’m trying to get all my work done over here for the term, I’d highly recommend you browse through her blogs and see how much of an amazing writer she is. I know you’ll come to love her as much as I do, I have read this blog so much I even have some lines memorized, it has helped me navigate through some dark spaces. ENJOY!
How to get through the dark- Guest post by Ann Voskamp
“The old cahoot ran in his boots.
Weren’t too many of anybody who believed he could.”
The kids and I read about the old guy one night after supper and the dishwasher’s moaning away, crumbs still across the counter.
How the old guy ran for 544 miles. His name was Cliff Young and he wasn’t so much. He was 61 years old. He was a farmer.
Mr. Young showed up for the race in his Osh Kosh overalls and with his work boots on, with galoshes over top. In case it rained.
He had no Nike sponsorship.
“No….” Cliff slipped his hands into his overall pockets.
“Then you can’t run.”
Cliff looked down at his boots. Does man need backers or does a man need to believe? What you believe is the biggest backer you’ll ever have.
The other runners, all under a buffed 30 years of age, they take off like pumped shots from that starting line. And scruffy old Cliff staggers forward. He doesn’t run. Shuffles, more like it. Straight back. Arms dangling. Feet awkwardly shuffling along.
Cliff eats dust.
For 18 hours, the racers blow down the road, far down the road, and old Cliff shuffles on behind.
Cliff Young runs on through the night and there is a Light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not master it.The darkness doesn’t understand the light, doesn’t comprehend the light, doesn’t get the light, doesn’t overcome the light, doesn’t master the light.
Darkness doesn’t have anything on light, on hope, on faith.
The darkness that sucks at the prodigal kid doesn’t have anything on the light of his mother’s prayers.
The black of pornography that threatens at the edges doesn’t master the blazing light of Jesus at the center.
The pit of depression that plunges deep doesn’t go deeper than the love of your Jesus and there is no place His light won’t go to find you, to save you, to hold you.
That low lying storm cloud that hangs over you can’t master the light of Christ that raises you.
Only words of Light can drive out worlds of dark. Only deeds of Light can drive out depths of dark. Only lives of Light can drive out lies of dark.
Darkness can never travel as fast as Light. No matter how bad things get, no matter how black the dark seeps in, no matter the depths of the night — the dark can never travel as fast as Light.The Light is always there first, waiting to shatter the dark.
You can always hold His Word like a ball of light right there your hand, right up there next to your warming heart.
You can always count on it: Jesus is bendable Light, warmth around every unexpected corner.
The accepted way professional runners approached the race was to run 18 hours, sleep 6, for7 days straight. But Cliff Young didn’t know that. He didn’t know the accepted way. He only knew what he did regularly back home, the way he had always done it: You run through the dark.
Turns out when Cliff Young said he gathered sheep around his farm for three days, he meant he’d run across 2,000 acres of farmland for three days straight without stopping or sleeping, without the dark ever stopping him. You gathered sheep by running through the dark.
So along the endless stretches of highway, a tiny shadow of an old man shuffled along, one foot after another, right through the heat, right through the night. Cliff gained ground.
Cliff gained ground because he didn’t lose ground to the dark. Cliff gained ground because he ran through the dark.
For five days, fifteen hours, and four minutes straight, Cliff Young ran, never once stopping for the dark – never stopping until the old sheep farmer crossed the finish line – First. He crossed the finish line first. Beating a world record. By two. whole. days.
The second place runner crossed the finish line 9 hours after old Cliff.
And when they handed old Cliff Young his $10,000 prize , he said he hadn’t known there was a prize. Said he’d run for the wonder of it. Said that all the other runners had worked hard too. So Cliff Young waited at the finish line and handed each of the runners an equal share of the 10K.
Open any newspaper at anytime and the one topic being reported is corruption countless articles on fraud and corruption. It’s a trending topic, money has been squandered, no one is ever held accountable, from the lowest government space to the highest, our country is under siege, to such a point that we no longer bat an eye when we hear the recent or current revelation there is a term for this… it is being desensitized
having been made less likely to feel shock or distress at scenes of cruelty or suffering by overexposure to such images.
Yes my fellow South Africans as your president would say, it is just another day for us when we read on topics such as, The fraud surrounding the Covid-19 fund, The Mpumalanga PPE tender corruption scandal, The freezing of Gauteng education service providers bank accounts pending investigation and so on and so forth, I would provide a link to these here, but I am sure you’ve read most of them or steered clear of all of it altogether, but I am afraid the list is overwhelming and endless…
It is safe to say we are in an abusive relationship with our government, from national all the way to local and we have no option but to stay, so we handle it in different ways, firstly we complain, and my goodness do we complain, to every and any person we come across, telling them how expensive life has become, asking them if they have seen or read the latest news. Secondly we ignore the news entirely, read everything else in the newspaper but the reports on fraud and corruption, change the channel, go about our business, what we don’t know can’t harm us right? Well, wrong but I understand. Thirdly we voice our opinion every chance we get, swearing at them and humiliating them on social media, on blogs (yikes) on whichever platform we have access to, and we never stop, some of us are notorious for being vocal and we’re proud. Let me tell you a story it could be true, it could be false it is purely an example, so keep reading…
Imagine you are given the responsibility to manage a town we could use the term public servant, however you are not alone, you have a team with you, your role is to take the budget passed down from national level (the highest decision makers in government) and you are to implement certain systems, some being evaluating the impact of government programmes (ensuring that proposed programmes are functioning, such as youth unemployment, skills development, housing, roads etc.) in municipal areas, enhancing performance and accountability, reporting and evaluation of capacity in local government (Knowing who must do what) coordinating and supporting policy development, implementing and monitoring and supporting service delivery (services such as water, sanitation, electricity etc.). This is to name but a few there is a great deal of work to be done but you do only parts of it, you squander the finances, there is no proof of functioning systems, there are power cuts, faulty water lines and the only thing that is evident to the public is spending, constant spending in a way that is overt, without shame and unexplainable.
This is a sad story isn’t it, imagine the residents in such a town, who do you think suffers most, it isn’t the working class, who have vehicles and earn stable incomes. It isn’t the wealthy who can afford to shut the world off, buy water tanks, generators and larger vehicles, in reality we all suffer but at it’s core it is the poor who suffer most, the poor who are at the very bottom of the food chain who possibly live hand to mouth, who went hungry pre-covid-19 and are suffering even more with this looming pandemic. It is the local business owners who employ some of these people and do not have recovery funds allocated for their survival like most of the famous franchise businesses.
The people who suffer most are the voiceless, who have accepted life to be unfair and understand that the system is rigged and that no one cares, so what do we do friends, so where do we go? We are all familiar with a town that I have mentioned above in my “story” it could be that you live in such a town.
We ALL realize that there is a problem, TOO much has gone wrong for TOO long and our silence had fanned this gruesome flame. We need solutions, effective and timely solutions, we have complained year in and year out and things are still the same.
We need to gather as members of various communities and come with effective solutions, sign petitions and we need to stop being reliant on political parties and realize how powerful it is when we as the community UNITE, put our differences aside and come together, from different racial groups, different view points and different economic classes. So much can be said, and this isn’t a once off conversation it can start again in the future… It shouldn’t stop, numbness is not an option.
Lastly AND MOST IMPORTANTLY we need to PRAY, don’t stop reading my non- Christian friends, hear me out, as Christians we talk a lot about praying, but we do so little of it, have you prayed for your municipalities and public servants as much as you have insulted them, sworn at them and slandered them? Have you prayed for them even though you dislike them, and I know this is putting it lightly, I know you are thinking of a stronger word. They know better and they are not your favorite people most likely, but if you believe FULLY in what the Holy Bible says you should know that you should pray for your enemies always, it written in Matthew…
Matthew 5:43- 47
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
Yes friends we are called to pray, as the water is cut for several hours, we should pray, when we see yet another building erected whilst and we are struggling with power cuts and potholes the size of ponds, we should pray, as we suffer without knowing when it will end, we should pray, we cannot afford to be so blind that we stop praying, reacting and feeling for the generations who are to come, for the generation that is watching us, we are not called to be silent or passive. Join a prayer group, pray with your friends, over zoom, over phone calls, pray ALONE just FIND A WAY, we have to. When corruption becomes normalized and we become desensitized to wrong doing, it causes more harm than good. We should pray for conviction, pray for wisdom and pray for TRANSFORMATION.
We were warned of trouble friends, we were told that whilst we are still on this earth and whilst we are still part of world systems AND kingdoms we will have trouble but this is not all there is, there is good news, and it is that Christ has overcome, he has overcome the world. Our hope is not in the world or anything the world has to offer, it is in the ONE unshakable hope, that does not waver or let us down, it is not fleeting in is CHRIST ALONE.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. … In this world you will have trouble. … But take heart! I have overcome the world.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
As women’s month draws to a close much can be said about women’s issues, abuse is usually at the top of the list, we mostly think of only physical abuse, where there are visible scars and an easy way to trace where harm was done. Emotional abuse is more subtle, not easy to trace but as equally dangerous. Emotional abuse is any abusive behavior that isn’t physical, which may include verbal aggression, intimidation, manipulation, and humiliation, which most often unfolds as a pattern of behavior over time that aims to diminish another person’s sense of identity, dignity and self worth, and which often results in anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It is reported that close to 80% of women have been abused emotionally by a partner in one way or another. Most times it is only when the relationship has ended that they start to realize how dire the situation was. Let’s consider for a moment how emotional abuse could play out in relationship. These are just a few signs:
12 Signs of emotional abuse:
Name-calling. They’ll blatantly call you “stupid,” “a loser,” or words too awful to repeat here.
Character assassination. This usually involves the word “always.” You’re always late, wrong, screwing up, disagreeable, and so on. Basically, they say you’re not a good person.
Yelling. Yelling, screaming, and swearing are meant to intimidate and make you feel small and inconsequential. It might be accompanied by fist-pounding or throwing things.
Dismissiveness. You tell them about something that’s important to you and they say it’s nothing. Body language like eye-rolling, smirking, headshaking, and sighing help convey the same message.
“Joking.” The jokes might have a grain of truth to them or be a complete fabrication. Either way, they make you look foolish.
Sarcasm. Often just a dig in disguise. When you object, they claim to have been teasing and tell you to stop taking everything so seriously.
Insults of your appearance. They tell you, just before you go out, that your hair is ugly or your outfit is clownish.
Belittling your accomplishments. Your abuser might tell you that your achievements mean nothing, or they may even claim responsibility for your success.
Put-downs of your interests. They might tell you that your hobby is a childish waste of time or you’re out of your league when you play sports. Really, it’s that they’d rather you not participate in activities without them.
Pushing your buttons. Once your abuser knows about something that annoys you, they’ll bring it up or do it every chance they get.
Monitoring your whereabouts. They want to know where you are all the time and insist that you respond to calls or texts immediately. They might show up just to see if you’re where you’re supposed to be.
Unpredictability. They’ll explode with rage out of nowhere, suddenly shower you with affection, or become dark and moody at the drop of a hat to keep you walking on eggshells.
I have chosen to mention 12 examples, they are more than 64 examples (I have provided a link below). If you read through these again quickly, and do a quick poll, how many of these have you experienced, or rather how many of these are you guilty of? If you have experienced more than half, you have been in an emotionally abusive relationship often without realizing it, you might have missed the signs because emotional abuse is rarely a single event. Instead, it occurs over time as a pattern of behavior that’s “sustained” & “repetitive.” this is why it’s so complicated. I have chosen to speak mainly on romantic relationships in this blog, but this is quite prevalent in families, working relationships and most social settings. Why does this happen? What causes people to be emotionally abusive?
Most abusers learned to abuse from their parents. Their early childhood history consisted of receiving abuse themselves and/or seeing others abused. As a consequence, abuse is the normal condition of life for these people. Such people internalized a particular relationship dynamic, namely the complementary roles of “abuser” and “victim”.
They are familiar with and fully understand the horror of being the helpless victim from their own childhood experience. Given the choice between being the out-of-control victim, or the in-control abuser, some of these people grow up to prefer the role of the abuser.
As they become adults, they simply turn this relationship dynamic around and start acting out the “abuser” side of the relationship dynamic they have learned. They hurt others in the process and this may go unregistered or only occur as a dim part of their awareness.
2. Mental health issues
Someone with anger management issues or a drinking or drug problem may easily get out of control during arguments (e.g., because there is something wrong with their ability to inhibit themselves at the brain level) and verbally or physically strike out at their partners.
Consider this a moment friends and sit with for a little while on my next BLOG, this WEDNESDAY I will touch on how to recover from them, how to possibly distance yourself from such people and what to do when you realize you, yourself are abusive.
I am what most would classify a coconut (a black person, who speaks and uses mannerisms that most would consider). I’m not particularly fond of the term but I know it’s widely used and in my case it’s because of how I speak English, with a twang (I cannot hear it by the way) so it doesn’t surprise me when people make a remark. The main reason for this is that I was in a Private school from Grades 3- 8, where we were only 3 black girls in a class of 15 at some point and a small part of a handful of black learners in the entire school for most of my early school years. This is why my life is so rich with a diversity of friends from different races and cultures.
Hair started being significant for me when I moved from a predominantly black school to one where there were different races in 2003 not only from what I saw on other learner’s heads but in story books. When I started at my new primary school my English wasn’t at its best, so to improve it my mother brought me books, particularly fairytales, Cinderella, Snow White and the like. A princess always had long, straight and full hair, this my child mind concluded made her beautiful. The learners in my school only solidified what my story books had been communicating all along, of what a princess’s hair should be. Most of my friends had long straight hair and I remember looking at it with a deep sense of longing. Having never seen a princess with coils on her head like mine. I remember so many people making a remark that my hair looked a lot like steel-wool, which is used in cleaning pots, I was told my hair looks dirty and people made jokes about how rough my hair was.
Most black hair types however look nothing like Cinderella and Snow White, our hair grows mostly in coils or curls and for some it barely reaches the shoulders. So how is it different you may ask, well you see, black hair isn’t all the same, some hair curls, some coils, some hair has volume and some hair is thin, it could be that in a group of black women they could all have different hair types that work like this:
This classification of hair came about in 1997, when a hairstylist Andre Walker, created a numerical grading system for hair types. Where he classifies afro-textured hair as ‘type 4’ (there are other types of hair, defined as type 1 for straight hair, type 2 for wavy, and type 3 for curly, with the letters A, B, and C used as indicators of the degree of coil variation in each type), with the subcategory of type 4C being an example of afro-textured hair. However, afro-textured hair is often a challenge to categorize because of the many different types. Those include patterns that are (mainly tight coils), pattern size (watch spring to chalk), density (sparse to dense), strand diameter (fine, medium, coarse), and feel (cottony, woolly, spongy).
I only found out about the correct terminology of afro hair last year at the age of 28, for years I convinced myself and was convinced by others that my hair is stubborn, ugly and needs to constantly be straightened for it to be somewhat manageable.
I grew up convinced that I would never look like all the princesses whose stories raised me and shaped my idea of beauty, this mindset didn’t start only in my childhood but has deeper and more painful roots, my mother straightened her her religiously and later removed it altogether. The women I grew up with also were adamant about keeping their as straight as possible, but what could have been the reason? Let’s consider the history of black hair for a moment.
Afro’s were never a problem to Africans they only started being a problem when colonialism began and western oppression, Afros and different African hairstyles were used to distinguish and identify people on the basis of their tribe, occupation and societal status. Beyond being a natural aspect of African beauty, African hair and its unique texture sets us apart as a race, and its delicate nature requires deliberate and specific attention. European explorers and their governments in a bid to assert racial domination went as far as fabricating scientific data to prove that the African man was a lesser human, all in a means to justify the ‘civilization’ of Africans.
Using humiliation and psychological warfare, the Europeans facilitated propaganda to ensure that Africans hated every aspect of themselves. Slaves were not allowed any personal belongings(or even clean water), including their instruments of hair maintenance, resorting to using grease to lubricate their hair, and using metal ornaments used to groom sheep to comb their hair.
Over half a century since the independence of most African nations, and close to a full century since the abolishment of slavery, the psychological implications and self-hate are still very present in most African communities. Natural hair is still not embraced, and many people still maintain conservative opinions about traditionally hairstyles African styles.
You might be tempted to see these perceptions as exaggerations, that can’t really cause much harm, but you would be wrong. As hair forms an intrinsic part of identity, it’s appearance to some, can lead to harmful perceptions and deeply challenging self esteem issues.
This history has a deeply interwoven phenomena that shouldn’t be dismissed and swept under the “not everything is about race” mat, because believe it or not most oppressive systems have been derived from oppression and their history matters it DEEPLY MATTERS!
It would be harmful to not consider the above when we speak on black hair. The truth is most black people hate their hair, because their mother’s and grandmother’s hated it as well. I grew up when natural hair wasn’t as widely embraced and this had dire effects on my self esteem. I thought my hair was what prevented me from being seen as a beautiful girl and I promised myself that as soon as I got the chance I would do whatever it takes to make my hair look “princess like” and so I did as soon as my parents allowed more freedom, I relaxed my hair, you see relaxing hair is when you use a chemical to straighten hair by penetrating the cuticle and the cortex layers of the hair shaft to loosen the natural curl pattern. This process leaves the hair weak, brittle and prone to breakage. It can even burn your skin, cause severe damage to the scalp and often leads to permanent hair loss.
Relaxing is the most painful thing that you can do, especially if you do it without proper knowledge, most of us have “burnt” our scalps and could tell stories of how excruciating this process was, but in an attempt to be accepted by our peers and even more deeply by ourselves we endured the pain.
As a young woman being accepted matters and how people see you is as equally important. I wish I grew up with people who wore their natural hair more, particularly their 4C hair which is my hair texture. Relaxers were not very effective for me because as soon as it got humid or any amount of water touched my hair it would curl again and so after every hair wash my hair would be in it’s original form in no time. This was as you can imagine quite a frustrating process.
In 2019 after years of using chemicals I decided to stop using chemicals in my hair. (I also want to say: to the women who use chemicals, this is not in any way me judging you or saying you are less African because of your decision to use chemicals in your hair, you are free to do with your hair as you please, this is just my story) I stopped using every form of relaxer and started doing research on how to manage my hair, the first ever video I watched on natural hair maintenance, was of a beautiful woman whose name is Sinovuyo Mondliwa do yourself a favor if you want to start this process and subscribe to her YouTube channel, https://youtu.be/n8-iKeOXbGM (the first video I of hers I ever watched) I remember not knowing where I’d start, it seemed so overwhelming, I started buying so many products and trying so many things. I memorized how beautiful Sinovuyo Mondliwa was, for my child mind, my child heart, for all the times I’d looked in the mirror and wanted to shave all my hair off! In frustration and feeling overwhelmed with my hair, she was to me what I’d always needed growing up, someone who embraced what I was shamed from loving.
Growing up my hair was always kept short, my parents didn’t know to maintain it and so I never learnt a thing about natural hair as well. I only learnt how to wash my own natural hair at the age of 28 about a year ago and when I figured out how to do it I cried, I CRIED because so much of my identity is in my hair, I cried tears of joy and tears of sorrow, I grieved for the child who wanted freedom from the hair she was born with, because no one had taught her what loving it looked like, I cried for all the young women who like me were never portrayed as princesses but they are. They always have been. I always was.
I wear my natural hair more often now and occasionally take breaks and still have weaves (not because I’m not proud of my hair or don’t want to fully embrace my natural hair but because I love weaves as well, there’s this misconception that women who relax their hair and put chemicals in it are not proud and this is not true at all, everyone has the luxury and the right to do with their hair as they please and this says nothing about their African pride), so with that being said friends let me tell you a few things that are hurtful and that you should avoid doing.
1. Asking: Can I touch your hair? (our hair is not a spectacle for you to asses, unless we have some form of relationship and I give you permission prior to you even asking)
2. Making remarks such as: I prefer your hair in this form (weaves and chemicals) (this implies that you dislike our hair in it’s most natural state and if you really feel this way it’s okay but rather keep it to yourself) unless we have a personal relationship and I can say the same about yours.
3. Please don’t smell our hair (I cannot tell you how uncomfortable it is and yes people do it, imagine a random stranger sniffing your head? Surely I don’t have to explain why this is offensive)
4. Don’t say things like: Why do you wear “white peoples hair” some weaves/wigs are very expensive and our reasons for using them are not because of lack of pride but personal preference, unless you contributed in the purchase which can range from R2000 to R15 000 and higher please refrain from making these remarks.
5. Do not ask questions like: Is this your real hair, ( did you see the price above, if I took out that money for something it means it is my property and if it it is on my head, it belongs to me) this is not necessary at all friends.
I would like to mostly make an appeal to my all my friends who may somewhat be guilty of what I’ve stated and have not been educated otherwise, this blog is to educate you, I realize that some of you were not aware of most of what I’ve stated in this blog post, I understand that most of your behavior has not been with the intention to harm, but I hope next time you see someone going about their business and you are tempted to do any of the above you could consider for a moment how you would feel if the above was done on a constant basis to you?
To all the young girls who will read this, I want you to know, your beauty far surpasses the capabilities and length of your hair, you are more than your hair, so so much more, I think of you every time I wear my afro, may you know nothing is wrong with the natural state of your hair, I think of you when I wear my weave, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break every now and then, I think of you when I want shave it all off, I know the constant struggle and the need to put down a load, I wish I could cup your face, place my forehead on yours and remind you that we are kin, you are safe when you are in my presence, to fully be, to thrive without scrutiny, to know African ness is no crime and everything that comes with it, be it hair, facial features and everything in between, rest in this child: you are more that the rigid standards of beauty you have been fed as early as you were able to comprehend, You are beautiful in any state you choose. I’m sorry for all the times you were demoralized for something you hold so dear. I am sorry that I took so long to speak for you and stand with you. I will never spectate or step back, I will never again not use all I have in my power to tell you how I see you, as well crafted princesses. I pray for you often. I love you all deeply. Whatever our history may be.
Dear Sinovuyo, You are the princess I longed for as a child, you are the epitome of beauty for me and I pray you thrive, in business, in love and in all the areas you hold most dear, your videos helped me in a way you will probably never fully know, I found myself in the sacred spaces of your tutorials and your recommendations. I have bought most products, I have stayed away from others, I celebrated with each professional milestone, I prayed on days that were heavy on you and I consider you royalty in every way. Thank you sis, thank you. The troubled and lost child I once was thanks you. From the depths of all I am, thank you, may you be recognized far and wide and may all you touch flourish.
20 years ago they broke the ground open and layed my Mama. She had been sick a long time. We’d been in an accident a few years prior, in her first car. My Mother was the master of firsts, or we can say the mother of firsts, first to graduate in the family, first to buy a car and the first female to buy property.
I wasn’t concentrating on the road on the day of the accident, I was looking out the window because as the car moved the trees danced, they bowed for us, bowed for my Mama as she drove passed, marveling at her, as we all were, before I knew it there was loud crash and glass was flying everywhere, we were off the road and everything went dark, when I opened my eyes I heard my mother screaming my name, her hand pulling at my body asking if I was okay, she then maneuvered her way out and that’s when I realized that we were upside down, the trees stood still, my Mama, she was able to drag me out, they were four people in the car that day but she got me out first…
I realize I’ve begun on such a sombre note, let me take you back to a happier time… my earliest memory of my mother was watching and hearing her sing, she sang worship songs and she sang them often, I remember asking her once as she blasted her worship, I asked her if God hears the music and thinks it’s us, she laughed and told me that’s exactly what he does, he hears us, when we worship, especially through others.
I hated church, it always seemed to last forever, in my mother’s church we had to wear hats, and she had a particular interest in straw hats, my mother was a very stylish woman, but these hats of hers, they made me feel like a basket and I’d scratch constantly, my attempts to take off the hat would be met with my mother’s sharp disapproving glare, you know that look Mom’s give, that give you flashbacks to your last hiding and keep you well behaved for much longer than you had thought possible. The pastor was a large man and to entertain myself I’d imagine he was a black Father Christmas, I was always in red so it was fitting to think of such. The only gift I wanted from him however was permission to leave. The old man always had something to say, he made the adults laugh, but the children would have made a run for it given a chance.
We lived at church, my mother attended church so often, It was our second home, I remember hearing her pray, I’m not sure exactly what she prayed about but it always ended in tears, I thought as a child God must’ve hurt her feelings for her to cry like that whilst speaking to him. They had an interesting relationship and I decided it was best if I stayed out of it, I wasn’t fond of crying anyway. It came before and after hidings.
My mother had beautiful hands, she was a quiet woman, she was wise, her favorite color was red, I had mostly red dresses as a child, her friends would always come to her for advice, she laughed often and even as a child I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever laid my eyes on. It was always her and I and she’d take me everywhere. I felt invincible with my mom around and sometimes that landed me in a heap of trouble.
I was a learner at the school she taught in and I remember getting special treatment as a result, girls piled up to make friends with me, in hopes I’d put in a good word with my mom, I’m not sure what a good word was Grade 1, but hey, I busked in the attention and would occasionally receive free food. If the playground was a kingdom I was definitely the king or we can safely say the queen. Life was good, I smiled all the way to school and back. Every now and then the teachers would send messages to my mom through me and I’d always forget. This upset my mother but much to my demise they’d make me a messenger anyway.
My first two grades were thrilling and just when I thought it couldn’t get better, I remember overhearing my mother discussing how she planned on placing me in boarding school the next year and her friend was telling her how good it would be if I learnt how to speak something called English. I cared nothing for whatever English was, I just knew if she was taking me out of the was school I was in, she had better be going with me, because if she wasn’t it meant I’d have to make friends, I’d receive no free food and worst of all I wouldn’t be the teachers pet who received suspicious amounts of attention and never got in trouble in class. My life here was a dream and what more could a child want?
The Holidays flew by and when we returned home from visiting family, I had new school uniform, a packed suitcase and a broken heart. I was going to be at the bottom of the food chain and I’d have to learn how to make friends for the first time in my life. We drove for hours to get to my new school and I hated it before I arrived, whatever English was I’d hated it with a passion, it removed me from the kingdom I belonged in and it had taken me away from my beloved Mama.
My new school was in Dundee. I was bullied badly there, you see my mother didn’t believe in elaborate hairstyles so she’d keep my hair short, making me look more like a boy, these kids would always taunt me, telling me to go to the boys hostel, it didn’t help that I had a more muscular body, my lunch was stolen and I found out this English was a way of communication and I didn’t know a word of it, this made it worse because for the first few months I didn’t even know what they were saying, I remember everyone laughing at me and the shame of it all, the girls seemed to be ten times my size. They’d make fun of my hair, my accent and anything they could find. I became very quiet and withdrawn and all I could do was wait for school holidays so I could return home. I never knew how to tell my mother how badly I’d been treated there and thought that’s how others were treated when their mothers were not teachers and I silently endured the pain. It was horrible.
I was in boarding school most of the year and no matter how long the holidays would be they never seemed long enough, they were never ever enough, and after what felt like a lifetime I had learnt English and my mother had bought a house and had found a school for me closer to the house that she had bought. This God she prayed to finally answered my prayers, not that I prayed much but he must be real I thought. It was as if my old boarding school was Egypt and I had beed saved at last, I was on my way to the promised land.
I was so nervous when I started at the new school, it meant a new group of bullies, new teachers and yet another struggle to make friends my only comfort was seeing my mother every day and this I remembered would be enough to get me through whatever was to come.
On the first day of school my mother had packed me lunch, no more peanut butter sandwiches like in Egypt, I hate peanut butter to this day, it was much nicer here, not a lunch tin that resembles one of an inmate, not that I knew what jail food looked like, but I’m sure it came pretty close. I even had sweets! Surely there was a God in heaven! This was proof!
My mother dropped me off and left, my heart sank but this new school was different, there were less kids and the teachers spoke kindly to me. I made friends easier and felt less alone. The name of the school was Maranatha and I loved it there, it felt like home. I felt safe again for the first time in a long time and still have many fond memories of that school and lifelong friends especially my besties for life. (Vanessa, Busisiwe and Mbally. Some teachers would do life with me too, Michael, Leane, Margi, Auntie Anne and Auntie Fiona- I love you all dearly)
It was at about this time my mother started getting sick, the accident I spoke of happened a few years earlier. I shared a bed with my Mom and one night I remember waking up to her convulsing violently on the bed, bleeding from the mouth, I panicked and ran out of the house, in the pitch black of the night to call my neighbors who came and helped her, also calling my Dad, who always came, they weren’t married and whenever they were together it always ended in some form of screaming. You see once my mother decided to surprise my Dad with a visit where he stayed and upon our arrival another woman was leaving, I remember being so excited to see my Dad but quickly realizing something wasn’t right, the woman walked fast and didn’t even greet, my mother looked so sad and my dad showed no remorse, telling my mother he’s too old for surprises. That visit was not only short lived but it was the last and I get it now, seeing as though I am the second born of about 9 children and we’re still counting… all of us from different mothers.
I loved my father but he always hurt my mother’s feelings with the words he said. They had a horrible relationship so bad I often remember pretending to be asleep so I wouldn’t cry, until one day my mother told him to leave and never come back, he’d visit me but she’d make sure she kept her herself busy with something else. When she started getting sick she needed help and had no strength to fight with him. The convulsions which we later discovered were epileptic fits became more frequent, I learnt to pull her to her side and wait.
I was in Grade 2 when I first thought of the possibility of losing my Mama, my small body pulling her on her side, watching her convulse in absolute fear, alone with her in the house, calling my Dad and waiting. I remember I’d sing, I’d sing and when she’d regain consciousness she’d tell me she’s so proud of me and I’m so brave. I’d felt death try to place it’s hands on my sweet Mama and she’d fought so hard, my beautiful mama she had lost weight and I would have given anything to heal her, to make her whole again, make her drag me to church with that scratchy church hat, hear her cry to her God once more, hear her laugh, but all I could do was wait, wait for my dad, wait for help, wait on God. I prayed that the God she prayed to would hear her now and save her. I don’t think he liked me much but he was her friend.
When she started getting worse my father came more often and they would fight just as much, I’d have to nurse her and then leave when it got too heated between them. As she grew worse mentally she was no longer there. I watched as they took her from one hospital to another, the internal damage was too much and they couldn’t help her, they couldn’t help the most gentle woman I had ever known they couldn’t rip her out of deaths hands, they just moved her from one place to another, until one day they took her and didn’t bring her back. To this day I hate hospitals, the smell, the sound, I saw so many hospitals as a child I hate funerals all the same which leads to where this all begun, her funeral…
I remember feeling numb,the past few months had taken their toll on me, I was exhausted, on the day she passed my father fetched me from school, it was nothing out of the ordinary until I got home and they were packing, this seemed to be more intense packing though it was more than the usual, they took everything, and I knew, she was gone, finally at rest, she had fought so long. She had been so strong. So so strong.
I never attended her funeral, I was at the same location but locked in a room, my father had locked me in the room because he had a score to settle and he decided that my Mama’s funeral would be the perfect place, my grandmother had never come to see my mother when she was sick and apparently at the funeral she cried the loudest my father couldn’t take it. So he took my hand led me to the room and locked it. When he got an opportunity to make his speech he used his chance to give my family, particularly my grandmother a piece of his mind. He said the following:
“Ngithule ngyabuka niyakhala, kodwa anikaze nize niyomubona uKhanyi, wena Juana thula! Ingane yakho ifile ungayazi nokuthi ikuphi” (I’m quietly watching you cry, but you never came to see Khanyi (my mom) you Juana! (my grandmother) stop crying! Your child died and you didn’t even know where she was”
Yes, ladies and gentleman my father, Roy Mdletshe, that was part of his speech, the part I was told anyway, apparently he said more. I wish he had given time, I wish he had left me to sit with my Mama one last time, but my father’s pain always translated into anger, he loved my mother, even though he didn’t know how to do it well. I later understood he had been raised in an abusive household himself and now that I understand I sympathize with him. He was a broken man. Too strong to let love in even from whom he needed it most. He never once cried.
My grandmother who had instantly stopped crying when my father left everyone gasping, she was never too fond of my mom, they had a strained relationship and I had only seen her once in my entire childhood. When the funeral ended she packed all my mother’s belongings and left, not leaving anything behind for me, but a few items in the house that are still dear. I remember crying and approaching my grandmother sometime before the funeral hoping for any form of consolation, she had rudely asked someone to take me away from her, saying my crying is loud and they were speaking as adults, she’s the spitting image of my mother, they even laugh the same and this was specially painful to see since she’s the only reminder I have of my sweet mama, when she left she never said goodbye and the depth of that rejection was a wound I nursed for years to come. We’ve since spoken twice in the twenty years and I’ve since forgiven.
My mother taught me the value of three things, the first being faith, the second is education and the last is knowing when to leave a man who constantly hurts you.
My mother prayed, she worshipped and she served faithfully at her church. She placed me in a Christian school where I later gave my life to Christ. I am a woman of faith because she planted a seed in my life at a time when I was too young to value it, for this I am most grateful. Eternally grateful.
My mother was the first in the family to graduate, inspiring me to do the same. I write because it turns out a English was never an enemy from Egypt but an instrument I would one day use to touch the world. To heal others and to heal myself. It would secure employment and open doors I have yet to imagine.
3. Leave when love hurts
My mother left my father when he became abusive, he came back to help but their relationship was long over, in so doing she taught me to leave men that cause me pain, men who raise their voices and their hands. Some men like my father are broken and no amount of love can mend them. It’s best if you let them go.
You would be so proud, I worship now, I worship as though it is the last time, every time, I remember your words, God does hear us. I pray now, I’ve found sometimes you have no words left and tears are all that remain and God knows exactly what they mean. I am a graduate twice over. I got a bursary and they funded me twice, they are amazing people not just funders, I know them personally and the impact has been immeasurable. I am in good hands I was adopted into two families and have two new Moms, God is funny right, he took you and yet blessed me still, they pray like you and love me as their own, I’m actually their favorite but they cannot tell me yet, they have other kids so they have to be considerate, they pray like you do and they are as beautiful, my precious moms Sylvia Musoke and Anneke Rabe my reminders that there’s nothing God cannot redeem, no pain he won’t heal with the power of his great love. Nothing is impossible with him and my life has been proof. I don’t know what you prayed but thank you. Thank you for the house, I have looked well after it, it has sheltered me. Thank you for holding on to Jesus. He is enough. 20 years later I still love you the same.
My mother’s name was Khanyisile (one who brings light) Lilly Vilakazi.
The light shines in the darkness , and the darkness has not overcome, understood it, mastered it.
In my life Poverty has not overcome, trauma has not overcome, pain has not overcome!
In the darkness of life Jesus has been my light and he has overcome, all glory to him! To all who read this with a broken heart, having lost a loved one, I pray you find healing in Christ, it is possible. Even if it takes 20 years. I pray you may find comfort in Christ alone, he truly is enough.
Till next time friends, remember even in grieving, even in our mourning…
One of my favorite stories is about an old man whose name is Cliff Young, a farmer, who had ran an ultra marathon and won at 61 years of age. It has since been removed from the blogger site but I have it printed somewhere and every now and then I go back and marvel at what that man has done.
Cliff young took part in his first ever ultra marathon, which is basically 875 km, the trick is you run for about a hundred kilometers, sleep and repeat for a few days. Standing at the starting line were all these runners half Cliff Young’s age, wearing their ergonomic sneakers, having trained for months on end this man though he’d received no such training, he had no experience whatsoever, he hadn’t run a short race or a full marathon. All he had done was shepherd sheep, that’s it. It turns out in the end he won the ultra- marathon, you see when the other young runners had taken a rest for the night, when the lights had been switched off, this 61 year old kept going, he didn’t stop, not through the night, not through the rain, not the scorching heat not in anything. He didn’t just win but he broke the record. When he received the prize money he waited at the finish line and gave all the runners an equal share of the prize money, said they all worked hard and deserved to receive something, no matter how small, and so he left the world beaming from within and reminded us of just how much good there is out there.
This story recently reminded me of a woman who is my very own Cliff Young, she isn’t a runner, she isn’t a farmer but my goodness, she is a force to be reckoned with, her name is Sylvia Musoke. We call her Mama.
A few years ago she announced to us that she wanted to pursue her degree in education. It was surprising at first but we all showed support and what she taught us are lifelong lessons that we’ll carry with us for years to come. So grab a chair, or find a nice warm spot in the sun and lean in here, I pray this inspires you and that in the end you may see all that seemed possible glimmer with hope. Here we go!
It is never too late to pursue your dream
Who told us that dreams can be achieved within a certain time frame? That is only in your 20s or 30s that you can go for it? Who gets to decide that you’re too old to pursue any passion? Well Mama taught us there is no such thing, you get to dream big and actually have your dream realized whether it is in your late 40s , early 50s and at any age you decide you’re ready, if you my friend are concerned that too much time has passed remember this verse. All things in their time can be made beautiful, so dream on, work hard and find new passions it is never too late, never!
Time management is essential to reach your goal
How well do you manage your time? Most people can spend hours on social media but cannot make time for what really matters, I am most people, sigh, this is what I do, I will scroll through my phone and tell myself that I wished I had more time, more time to pursue my passions and more time to do what matters even though I sometime waste so much of it, I am slowly changing and prioritizing, you can too.
Managing your time can be defined as:
“the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively, especially at work but not limited to a working environment”
I watched Mama do away with most things as she focused on her goal, she spent less time on social media, she would cook and arrange chores accordingly so she would have enough time she would even wake up really early so she could focus on her books, when were all snug and getting those extra few minutes of rest she was already up and about and this has taught me that time can be made for what matters.
Whatever you, do it to the best of your ability
Mama wasn’t going to be satisfied with just obtaining her degree, I told you in the beginning she is feisty, she has always taught us to do whatever we put out minds to, with great effort, she has always spurred us on in whatever field it may be, she worked hard to make sure she got it with distinction, you don’t manage your time well, sacrifice all the fun, whilst juggling the expectations from your job, so you can just get a qualification, you do it so that you can get it with distinction and that is exactly what she did.
Cum laude is Latin for “with praise” or “with honor” and represents an academic level of achievement. Educational institutions use the phrase to signify an academic degree that was awarded with honor.
Unsurprisingly her children, my siblings all have inherited this, not only the beauty but the brains, but as we all know brains alone can only take you so far, you also need the grit, the strength of character. Don’t be satisfied with just getting tasks done, do them well, do them with honor, do them with all you have the results will show in the end.
Whilst Mama was still studying, she celebrated not only us, but others who were obtaining their qualifications. She encouraged us and she showed up for us whilst we were in our winning seasons. It is easy to side- eye and care nothing for others who seem have reached the peak you are still setting your eyes on. She has taught me that showing up for others does not take anything away from the goal you are aiming for. It is why in the end she was supposed to get a huge party, bigger than all the ones she has thrown for us, but she kept it simple and intimate and we love her all the same. She prayed for us and kept us going even though she had the same workload if not more, mothers are truly amazing. This particular woman is exceptional.
No matter how upset you are, it is never a reason to burn down UNISA
In the end when we almost did jail time for arson. UNISA kept giving Mama a run around and I was just a prayer away from setting that building alight, I know, I know, crime doesn’t pay. Mama reminded us of this, if came really close though, they had better be grateful Mama knows the Lord because we were not playing any games not at all.
Thank you for practicing what you preach so well, thank you for speaking with your life more than what you could have spoken with your words. Even when in the end there were a few obstacles that arose you kept going, you always kept going, through Covid, through winter, through tiredness through it all you just would not stop. You never ever stopped. Thank you for teaching us the power of prayer, I know how much you prayed through it all, even in the end when we almost burnt down UNISA (Jesus knows our hearts) you kept us all from jail time. You are truly remarkable and it’s a pity some people will only read about you, I wish everyone would encounter you. We are so proud of you and may God grant you all the desires of your heart. Congratulations again, I hope you change your mind about that massive party because you deserve to be fully celebrated, for all you have done for all you are and all you have been to us. We love you deeply.
You have taught the art of perseverance and courage.
Life especially Mamas is Art in its truest form is art and her life has been the most beautiful display.
Love is such a mystery, honestly! Everyday you interact with so many people and then one day you look at one particular stranger and decide you want to keep them around in your life for longer which is so insane because for some of us there are family members we would gladly trade in even though we come from the same parents and have spent most of our lives together.
I don’t think I have been particularly fortunate when it comes to the affairs of the heart, my ability to choose potential suiters is honestly the worst, no really, I used to think they were the problem until I realized in all of my relationships I am the common denominator, it isn’t who approaches you, it is who you decide to entertain.
During most of my strange escapades that with the opposite sex, some thrilling, some short and most ended with absolute regret I have learnt a few things. I won’t say that my lessons are life changing and maybe for some they are so simple and straight forward but I took a long journey to get to this destination of contentment.
Yes, contentment, I know for some it is an unattainable space, well it was for me for the longest time. Those who know me will know I have been single for most of my adult life, I have been hooked up more times than I can count and each time it ended in absolute disaster.
I am a hopeful romantic and was overly picky! I was thinking the other day that in my early 20s I had a two page list of what I wanted in a man, everything form his exact height, complexion, qualification and to top this crazy list he had to be left handed, yes something about someone being left handed impressed me, ridiculous I know but hey. As the years went by my list grew suspiciously shorter and now it only has 3 things on it and it’s hilarious how I have scaled it down but keep reading to find what those 3 things are… Here are some of the lessons I have learnt in my journey of love.
Lesson 1: You are as healthy as what you entertain
One of my favorite quotes is by Rupi Kaur:
“For you to see beauty here doesn’t mean there is beauty in me. It means there is beauty rooted so deep within you, you can’t but see it everywhere” What a beautiful quote right?
I have learnt you are as healthy as what you entertain, now don’t get me wrong, people are deeply flawed and loving someone means looking past their flaws and finding the gem hidden behind all the rubble, we all have past traumas, triggers and other disfunctions that we ourselves are trying to navigate, how much more when you bring someone into your life. There are people who strongly believe in this saying “this is how I am, take me or leave me”, this statement is so problematic because it means that person isn’t willing to do anything to see how their behavior can have an effect on their significant other, in a negative manner. In relationships, not only in romantic relationships but all relationships we need to constantly strive to be kind, to be gentle, to guard our words and to apologize when harm was done. Although sometimes this isn’t enough we can strive all the same and if you see that a person is unwilling and hardly reciprocates that same attitude than it’s best you keep your distance. If all you ever see is what is wrong with people and you believe they are the only ones who need to change, then you need to look long and hard into yourself. ALWAYS try to see beauty in others but don’t break your own heart when all your attempts are futile. I was this person I could never see the good in me and so I painted everyone with that same brush. An ugly brush it was when I started to value myself that people seemed better, healthier, worth the effort.
Lesson 2: How you define love matters!
How do you define love?
We all have different ways of defining what love means to us, that we have adopted from somewhere, some think love is just feelings, some have other views on it. The problem comes when people who have different definitions of love come together and when they try to make it work they keep clashing.
My definition of love is one that won’t sell any romantic novels, it is dull and boring but quite rewarding even if mainstream media wouldn’t necessary agree.
I believe to love is to choose.
Feelings come and go, they fluctuate depending on the time of the month, the happenings of the day and other factors but our ability to choose is the most powerful thing we can do, do you know that you could choose to love someone who absolutely abhors you! You can decide to act in a way that goes against your feelings no matter how hard it can be. For peace it is better to find someone who has the same definition of love that you do, and if not, both parties should be in constant conversation about how to bridge this gap to avoid any disagreements or misunderstandings in the future.
Lesson 3: Build a foundation
What is the foundation of your life? As in what are your principals? Your beliefs?
MY FOUNDATION IS CHRIST! Oh man I could write a whole other blog post about this (I really should) I believe in Jesus, I believe in God and the Holy Spirit, I believe he died for my sins and that He is the ultimate authority of my life. I was deeply lost in my sin, I don’t think I will ever fully understand how far deep I was in shame! I was selfish, prideful, unteachable and completely dysfunctional. But God, he looked at all that was wrong with me and didn’t look away he loved me fully. His Word is what always called my wandering heart back, it calms the most violent inner storms, you know when words that were spoken to you by others and yourself come hunting for you, words or failure, of defeat, past mistakes and everything else that gets thrown your way. His Word responds with my favorite Psalm,
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
That part about ” as far as east is from the west” gets me every time. Every. Single. Time. When I am nursing past wounds and wallowing about what has long gone, I remember that God is not doing the same. He loves me fiercely, he is not constantly accusing me. He is not accusing you too as you read this beloved. His is never the voice that shames you.
I have encountered men who didn’t have the same foundation, some would be seen physically in the same church as I was but their hearts were far removed and my failed attempts at missionary dating (which is dating someone whilst trying to evangelize them) taught me that only God can transform hearts, no one else can, no amount of love can, in the end that love becomes frustrating for both the parties and if you’ve read this far you’re waiting keenly to find what is left on my list and it is this:
A MAN WHO IS TRULY SOLD FOR CHRIST not just quoting scripture here and there, not just when in suits them but always, as it at all times, in everything, who values scriptures who is in constant progression not PERFECTION! This is where he learns how to forgive, how to be generous, how to be kind and all the other good stuff.
A MAN WHO PRAYS and understands the value of prayer.
A MAN WHO LOVES ANIMALS. (This is a recent one and I am surprised myself! but more on that later)
Lesson 4: Being single isn’t the worst thing you can be
Singleness is not a curse, there is nothing wrong with being single, no matter how bad people make it seem, we can be so good at rushing people and ourselves in certain seasons, find your passion, pursue Christ, invest in your relationships. To those who are reading this and rolling their eyes, I know how it can be and we are in it together, you are not alone dear friend, surround yourself with people who love you and remember God always has a plan.
As always remember you are art the most beautiful kind.
In my previous blog, I touched on prayer, I challenged my readers and myself to be more intentional about how much time we pray.
Prayer is an essential spiritual discipline for us as Christians yet I don’t think we spend enough time understanding why it is so important that we pray.
Today we’re going to touch on Spiritual warfare so let us consider the following verse:
Ephesians 6:12 NIV (emphasis my own)
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
This verse highlights a few things.
There is more than the physical world that we can see and touch.
There is a wresting taking place, other versions include struggling.
There are unseen spiritual forces of darkness.
So let’s begin here by understanding what spiritual warfare is.
We can define warfare in this way:
military operations between enemies, hostilities, also an activity undertaken by a political unit (such as a nation) to weaken or destroy another. struggle between competing entities conflict.
So if you are still following you will see that there is a fight going on between evil and good. The kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light.
It is vital to understand that there is a healthy response to this as well as an unhealthy one, some people see demon activity in everything and they are obsessed with it they live in crippling fear, while others don’t believe that evil exists and so they live their lives without the fear but in as much danger as those who overestimate the power of evil. We need to have a healthy approach and it starts by acknowledging this truth:
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil—
The devil is real. He is not some little guy in a red suit with a pitchfork, he has come to STEAL, KILL and ultimately DESTROY.
The enemy is crafty, he knows what each person is weak in mostly because he has a plan. The same way God has plans to prosper us the enemy has a plan to harm us and keep us from the truth.
The enemy uses fear.
“Fear is Satan’s primary weapon. It’s a spiritual force that begins inside you, and it is totally destructive because it robs you of your faith and peace. It keeps your focus on circumstances instead of the promises in God’s Word”
Where is your focus as you’re reading this? Do you fear for your family in these difficult times? Are you concerned about finances? Job security? Or just your life in general?
Instead of just moving in fear have you looked at God’s word? What promises do we have? One of them is this…
Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life…
The areas that you worry about the most is the same areas that you trust God the least.
Some days you might have to say the following out loud: “Lord I am afraid, for my future and my life but thank you that your Word says I don’t have to worry about my life, if birds are not having nervous breakdowns because they are taken care of I will also not be afraid or worry”
The enemy is very crafty, he knows exactly what to shake in your life…
“The enemy’s attacks are always wrapped in the packaging of deception, always designed to manipulate the truth about God, and about your value in Him. He desires to lead you into sin so that fellowship is broken between you and God—this way you’ll be disconnected from the Source of true power and strength,”
The enemy will lie to you, tempt you to sin, and make you prideful.
So what do we do? How do we overcome?
We do this by understanding that the most powerful weapon is RELATIONSHIP, real relationship, our spiritual armor and prayer is included in this, for years my spiritual life was just about ticking boxes, I just did things that a good Christian does and thought my mission is to stay out of hell, nothing else, we do not talk about the importance of relationship enough because it’s hard.
Relationships with people that we see aren’t easy, how much more with our Heavenly Father, but the same way we work hard to keep our worldly relationships thriving we should do the same with the relationship we have with God. This is the most important relationship of them all.
What does relationship look like?
For me it looks a little like this. It looks like being honest everyday that I believe in God, I believe that he sent his one and only Son to die for my sins. I believe that it isn’t my good works that qualify me for his goodness, I believe that God loves me more than my mind could ever comprehend and that nothing can separate me from his love. I believe that he has certain guidelines that he has put in place to protect me and that his Word is the most wonderful thing I have ever laid my hands, heart and eyes on and I will spend my whole life navigating through these truths. I believe he is the ultimate authority in my life.
I make honest prayers. I entrust all that I am to Christ. Even when I fail I remember nothing disqualifies me from his love. I am learning to Go to God about everything, even the most ridiculous things. Knowing that he’s a loving father who is crazy about me.
The armor of God:
The belt of truth- Have you read it, do you know it? Do you carry with you in your heart, if not start today. Start by praying and ask God to open your eyes, your spiritual eyes so that you not only see what is written but also believe that it is true.
The breastplate of righteousness- Our righteousness is Christ, without him we fail even before we begin, so knowing this with the help of the Holy Spirit we must pursue right standing with Christ and fill our lives with what glorifies.
The shield of faith- “Faith is the shield of the believer. Trusting in God’s power and protection is imperative in remaining steadfast. When the battle rages, we must remember that God works all things for good. He is always true to His promises.”
Helmet of salvation- “The believer’s helmet of salvation is the most crucial piece of armor for the Christian. Without the indwelling Holy Spirit that enters a believer at the moment of salvation, all other armor is useless. Salvation empowers believers to fight. It protects us in our weaknesses. Without salvation, there is no victory.”
The Shield of faith- “Faith is the shield of the believer. Trusting in God’s power and protection is imperative in remaining steadfast. When the battle rages, we must remember that God works all things for good. He is always true to His promises.”
The Sword of the spirit- The sword is the only piece of offensive armor it is so vital in the battle with evil, the enemy knows this, if Jesus responded with scripture to him in the wilderness how much more should we? However we cannot respond with what we do not know, do you know the word? Do you know it really?
And PRAYER… Not only before meals and before bed but at all times, for those you love, for every situation and no matter what happens.
So much can be said but as you read this I pray your spiritual eyes may be opened, I pray you may be encouraged and remember with Christ we will overcome.
2 Corinthians 10:5
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
So much can be said on this matter. But we’ll end here today.
As you read this I pray your eyes may be opened, I pray your spirit may be strengthened. I pray you may always remember that in Christ we have overcome.