Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why iLove Christmas

I wrote this piece after I read Sipho Hlongwane's article on City Press (02/12/12) titled: "Why I hate Christmas." It inspired me to approach the paper and see if I could offer them my piece: "Why I love Christmas". No one got back to me. But the nice thing about having a blog is that you have a platform to let your writing see the light of day.

I’ve heard of people hating Valentines. They have their own reasons. But I’d never heard of anyone who hates Christmas. So when I read his article I was like: "are you serious?" because my views on Christmas are a total opposite.

My “Why I love Christmas” list would be endless, so I’m going to cut it down. First let me say to Sipho, askies that you feel that way. But I feel even more sorry for your kids (or future kids, if you don’t have them already) because kids are crazy about Christmas – that’s when “Santa Clause is coming to town”. Why rob them of that?

I was born on Christmas day, my sister was born on December 2, and my mother on December 29. So in my family, the December month has always been a big deal. To top it off, as Christians, we believe that’s when Jesus Christ was born. God’s love, kindness and mercy are seen in the birth of Christ, who eventually died for our sins.


When I was a child, I noticed with curiosity and knew that when the grass is green again, flowers in full bloom, trees dripping with ripe fruit and beautiful butterflies all over the show – Christmas, and my birthday, were near.

The first time my grandfather took me to Sunday schools I was taught a prayer that concluded with “… (Jesus) Who died for us, and who rose for us, so that we can have the best of life always.” So I was conditioned from a super young age to cherish the day that this man was born. His death (Easter) is a topic for another day.

Christmas is the only time of the year when most families come together. People travel and fly from far-away places to spend time with their loved ones. What’s there to hate about that? It is the only time when most people really sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of their year-long’s toiling and sweating. Of course money is spent, a lot. I agree with you (Sipho). Christmas is expensive. But what is not, really?

I don’t want to change the mind of anyone who hates Christmas about the way they feel about it. I only wish that they experience the beauty that it brings one day.

If people overdo it, let them mind their own business. All that they should do is to be smart spenders/consumers and never to go on holiday on credit. During the festive season, some people (like myself) rest, reflect and re-strategise, some party, some shop, some fall in love, some indulge in whatever they want, some go on spiritual retreats, some go to the sea (or overseas) – they do all sorts of things that seem pleasing to their eyes. I don’t think it is “forced happiness” as you put it. Let them be. ‘Tis the season to be jolly – It’s allowed.

Merry Christmas.

@Refilwe Thobega.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The 'wilderness' mentality

This blog is purely inspired by friends (and strangers) who continue to “inbox” and send me e-mails saying that they love the blog and totally appreciate it. One friend recently said: “People are looking for hope and inspiration, and your last post (Your Turn is Coming) gave that very well.” Thanks friend.

I think celebrity news and gossip are not really enriching. Whether Chris Brown and Rihanna get back together, does not affect me. (It’s nice to read about it though.) But I’m not going to blog about it. On some TV Show Pabi Moloi when asked if she was in favour of them getting back together or not, she basically said she couldn’t care less : “For us, it is just a story we read about, but for them, it is real life,” she added. She continued to say that it is the toxic relationships that we find so hard to let go of. True! 

"... Love in a hopeless place ..." 

So the book that I just finished reading is called: Battlefield of The Mind by (the ever inspiring) Joyce Meyer. And I secretly hope that somehow something leads her to this web page. That would be awesome. She follows me on Twitter. I follow her too #Teamfollowback.  I remember a while ago I reviewed Hugo Africa’s book whose title I cannot recall. Somehow he saw the posting and found a way to find my contact details and one evening when I was out with my sister he called me. Out of the blue. I was super chuffed. He simply said “thank you” for the positive review and that he hoped that we could work together in the future.  I was like: are you serious? 

Unfortunately, some bimbo made some not-so-ayoba comments about Hugo on the blog, then Hugo kindly asked me to remove the post. Although I totally understood where he was coming from, my blog was a bit upset to lose a nice piece. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and whether positive or negative, that is what they “think” or “heard” about you, especially if you are a public figure. So I am of the #TeamLetthemsaywhatevertheysay, aslongas youknowthetruth. But I had to respect his wishes. 

But my reviews are not based on whether the author sees them or not. I am doing it purely based on my love of books, reading and the desire to share … 

Children of Israel ready to cross Jordan.
Battlefield of the Mind explains why the children of Israel took 40 years to get to the “promised land”. Apparently that could have been an 11 days’ journey – believe it or not. One would think they were dunderheads for taking so many years to get to a place that could have been reached within less than two weeks. But there was a divine purpose, I guess.  They had what Joyce calls a “wilderness” mentality. Most of us have that mentality. We are fearful, doubtful, mentally lazy, negative, hypocrites – always grumbling, fault finding, stubborn, unforgiving, and so forth. Joyce does a great job of unpacking all these mentalities and behaviours and explains what the roots of such issues are and how we can free ourselves from the “strongholds” that poison and imprison our minds, robbing us of blissful and prosperous lives.

I am not proud of that I really took a long time to compete the book. My excuse would be I have been too busy. Besides, it is a very fat book. My sister is currently reading: Do yourself a Favour: Forgive, by Joyce Meyer still. I will read and review it as soon as she is done. 

Battlefield was a gift from a friend. It wasn’t actually a gift; she lent it to me. We moved apart and she let me keep it. We were both admitted at the same hospital at the same time last year (and I don’t think she’d be cool with it if I posted some pics here). But I think she is amazing. Who has the “spirit” to give while they, themselves are experiencing pain? We were both going though one of our lowest points in our lives. She didn’t only meet me there. That was also where she found her soul mate and love of her life. Yes! In hospital. (Our lives are filled with such great stories, I tell you! Who would have thought?)

Soul mates 

Battlefield of the Mind was more than just a special gift. It is a silent therapist and a motivational speaker. It speaks volumes. Joyce says: “Worry, doubt, confusion, anger, and feelings of condemnation … all these are attacks on the mind. If you suffer from negative thoughts, take heart!”
You deal with thousands of thoughts you have every day and focus your mind the way God thinks. She shares the trials, tragedies and ultimate victories from her own marriage, family and ministry that led her to a wondrous, life-transforming truth. 

If you can, get your hands on it. Happy reading … 


Happy reading, bookworm. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Your turn is coming.

You are not forgotten! 

On Tuesday I went to Sars in Randburg to do my tax stuff. What could have just been a 20-minute task ended up in a five-hour ordeal. I kid you not. Me and my friend walked in and got seated at about 11.30 and we only got helped after five hours.

I usually do e-filing. But somehow this year it just seemed a bit “macho” to physically go to one of the biggest Sars buildings in Mzansi. I’m kidding. I had my reasons.
Do not get me wrong. This is not a complaint. I actually learned something very important while there.

Here is what happens. When you walk in, the security personnel searches your bag, and then you proceed to a gentleman with a little box. In this box, there are little pieces of paper with numbers written on them. He asked me what I had come to do. “Personal tax returns” I said. He gave me a piece of paper with the number 654 written on it. Then he directed us to the next room.

My friend and I proceeded, and got seated. The “hall” was packed with people. Black, white, young, old.  All sorts of people. Far above on the wall, hanged what looked like a TV screen. And there were speakers. A voice from the speakers announced what number should go to which counter. 

And as a number was called, the same number appeared on the screen and it also showed the number of the counter where the holder of that number would be assisted. I paid attention to the screen, I realised that they were not calling the numbers in chronological order. The female voice (and a very irritating voice, I tell you) would say “ticket number 428 to counter 12” and then next say “ticket number 785 to counter 28”. I thought that my number (654) had a nice ring to it. So I told myself “agg, my number will be called in no time. One hour max!” At least I was not having unrealistic expectations. “One hour max!”
What a pain in the your know what.

Three hours later we were still sitting. Never been called. People came in and went out. After a while a very, very old man came in and sat next to me. I felt so sorry for him. He was number 855. “They should make plans to assist the elderly separately, so that they don’t queue for ages like the rest of us,” my friend said. And I silently prayed that this oupa’s number gets called soon, since there was no particular order. Otherwise it would be torture for him. I generally have a very soft spot for the elderly.

Eventually his number was called. And off he went. And I said a silent “Yes!” on his behalf.
Then this other guy came in, sat down, and within less than five minutes, his number was called. Commotion followed. People were like “what the hell?” But I did not pay attention. My focus was on the TV screen.

The watch hit 15.00. Numbers were still being called. People stood up. Some sat down. Others went up the stairs. Some came down. But my focus remained on the screen. At some point my eyes started to complain; and I was not sure if my eyes were sore because of hunger or because of starring at the blurry screen for long. But I did not care. I kept on hoping: “my number will be up next.”

I know that my boat will eventually come. 
A little later I stood up to stretch my feet. I got a bit worried when they called out number 1239. I walked up to the gentleman who was wearing a Sars T-shit. “I have been sitting down since 11.30, it is now 15.30, is there a possibility that they might have skipped my number?” He took my ticket and went to find out. After a minute he came back. “No, your turn is still coming. You will be called soon,” he reassured me.

I went back. After about 10 minutes my friend’s number was called. Up the stairs she went. Then this sophisticated lady waltzed in with her handsome son. It was impossible not to notice her. She looked very “upmarket” -- with nice make-up, long straight fake hair, nice red skinny pants, green blazer,12-inch stilettos. The works. I thought “when I grow up, I want to be like…” and before I could finish my thought her number was called!

I was fuming. How is this possible? I have been here for ages! This is total unfairness! Somebody please explain this to me …

When my friend came back, I complained to her. “Sometimes it is all about who you know inside,” she said in a very calm manner. I let it go. Being upset about it was not going to make a difference.

“Ticket number 654 to counter 12”

 Finally my number was called. You can imagine the relief that followed.

Oh cool. Finally ...
And you know what? I compare what happened at Sars to what happens in our lives every day.
The Sars ordeal reminded me that in life:

Being there first does not guarantee that you will “get in” first. Sometimes we have to wait patiently for what we need (or want). Sometimes, people who came after you will get in before you. You’ll just have to swallow your fury and deal with it. In life, we are all coded with numbers which are called randomly, and you should never sit back and relax because you don’t know when your number will be called. You want to be ready when your turn comes. And if you have been waiting for too long, just hang in there, know and believe that your turn is certainly coming. Sometimes people will go right ahead of you and snatch what you want badly… right in front of you. It is life.

And very detrimental to the wait is your attitude. A negative attitude will only make the experience unbearable.    
Maybe you are waiting for God to do something specific for you. Maybe you are whining and winging that you have been waiting for too long. Maybe you are this close to throwing in the towel.

But before you quit, remember this poem (Author Unknown):    
“Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, 
And you never can tell how close you are, 
It may be near when it seems so far, 
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.”

So, my beautiful dear … just wait, your turn is still coming. 

Ok, now back at Sars. As I proceeded to counter 12, all I could think was “thank goodness” and suddenly it didn’t bother me that I had been waiting for ages. I was just happy that my time finally came.

Not-so-lucky number 654.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Seven Spiritual of Success

I haven’t updated my blog in quite a while. Of that, I’m guilty. However, I have just completed reading The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. The number one New York Times Bestseller is supposedly “a practical guide to the fulfilment of your dreams”. I believe so too.

In this book, Deepak Chopra distils the essence of his teachings into seven simple, yet powerful principles that can easily be applied to create success in all areas of one’s life.
And I promised myself that I’m going to practise everything that Mr Chopra advises, and if my life is still the same after 12 months, I’ll seek my money back. No negotiations. LOL.

And now I have moved on to Battlefield of the Mind – winning the battle in your mind -- by Joyce Meyer. I will post its review here on Favorite Flavor once I have completed reading it. The book “talks” about wrong and right thinking, positivity and negativity, and how to conquer the “battle” in your mind. Remember that everything that happens in (your) life is a product of (your) “thought”. It all begins in the mind – whether good or bad. So Ms Meyer’s book simply teaches how to master your thoughts to create success, positivity, health, good luck and all things lovely.

I am reading this sort of books because I am on a hectic spiritual journey right now. I am even learning to master the art of meditation. Slowly, but surely. I’ll keep on sharing what I know and learning on this remarkable road to self-discovery and self-mastery because I believe that I am not the only one going through this “phase”.

Most of you (who know my other “side”) might be thinking: where did the controversial Refilwe disappear to? Don’t worry, I’m still here. Crazy as ever. Mad, mental and irritating as can be. But, I have had to pause, breath, reflect, face the music (and you know how the truth can really hurt sometimes), seek divine guidance and “do the work” – as Inyanla Vanzant would say. You have to do the work.

A positive mindset can achieve wonders.

Anyway, enough about that, let’s go back to Deepak Chopra. There are seven laws:
·         the law of pure potentiality
·         the law of giving
·         the law of “Karma” (yeah, I love this one. What goes around comes around; the pain we cause in people’s lives will come back to us. All the lies, the hatred, all that we forcefully take from others, deception, cunningness – they will make a u-turn and go back to the source)
·         the law of least effort
·         the law of intention and desire
·         the law of detachment
·         the law of “Dharma” or purpose in life.

Deepak also quotes some verses from the Bible to show you that these laws have always been there. He didn’t make them up. There is a verse in the Bible that says: Be still and know that I am God (In simple “earthly” translation: spend some time alone, meditate and let God take care of the details, you can't know it all, you can’t be in control all the time. Sit down). There is another one that says: Do not be anxious of anything … (Relax and quiet your mind. Do not stress) and the other one that says: Do unto others … (This is where the law of Karma comes in).

It all begins in the mind.

I have read several self-help/motivational/inspirational books, such as: The Secret, The power of positive thinking, In the meantime, In the Valley,  just to name a few (that immediately come to mind), and I have realised that all of the things that these books say are actually in the Bible. All of them. It is just that different authors try to explain and elaborate and make practical examples, but most, if not all, of these “principles” and “laws” are right there, in our homes – in the form of a Bible. But being able to understand what the word is saying is a different gift all together.

I am not preaching, I just wanted to get that little “discovery” out of the way. So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and children of all ages, I hope that you get to equip your soul and minds with all that they need to transform your lives, one positive thought at a time.

Till next time.

God Bless. I love you. (Damn, I have really become sentimental these days) WTH? *puzzled face*

Saturday, March 24, 2012

You are what you are waiting for!

We spend a lot of our lives looking for role models, mentors, teachers, and gurus to guide us on our path. There is nothing wrong with this and, in fact, finding the right person at the right time can really help. However, it is important to realise that in the absence of such a figure, we can very safely rely upon ourselves. 

We carry within us everything we need to know to make progress on our paths to self-realization. The outer world serves as a mirror. Or to use another metaphor, our inner world has a magnetic force that draws to us what we need to evolve to the next level. All we need to do to see that we already have everything we need is to let go of our belief that we need to seek in order to find. 

The path of the spirit is often defined as a journey with a goal such as the fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In this metaphor, a person begins a search for something they want but do not have and then they find it, and there is a happy ending. 

It is all within reach, just go for it. 
However, most of us know that getting what we want only makes us happy for a moment, and then the happiness passes until a new object of desire presents itself. Joy is a permanent aspect of our inner selves and is not separate from us at any point. We do not have to travel to find it or imagine that it resides only in the body of another. In fact, what the best teachers will do is point out that this very precious elixir is something we already possess. 

So when we find ourselves on our path, not knowing which way to turn and wishing for guidance, we can turn to ourselves. We may not know the right answer rationally or intellectually, but if we simply ask, let go, and wait patiently, an answer will come. The more we practice this and trust this process, the less we will look outside ourselves for teachers and guides for we will have successfully become our own.
 -- DailyOM

I believe I can fly

Monday, March 12, 2012

SOS: Asking for help is not a weakness.

Help! I am drowning. 
Asking for help is something that we all know and understand. Asking for help is admitting that we all co-exist to help, support, and even serve, each other. But how many people fail to ask for help while struggling because of fear of being judged? Or pride? Asking for help is not a weakness. It has everything to do with knowing that motho ke motho ka batho 
(I am ... because of others). 

I came across the below piece of information, relating to asking for help, on the site I was even more attracted to it because of the picture (above) accompanying it. I found it quite catchy and really relevant. You need a helping hand when you can't reach, when you can't see a way forward, when you don't know how you are going to do it. That's when you need help the most.  
Studies show that getting encouragement and support from others is a powerful weapon for changing difficult behaviors. Ask your friends to provide encouragement and offer to do the same for them. 
Sharing your struggles with others can be a powerful motivator for change. That’s why groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Weight Watchers are so popular and successful. 
These groups can also provide information and advice. In addition, if you feel ashamed of your behavior, you may find it therapeutic to share your troubles with other women who are going through similar experiences.

 Go on, ask for help. And don't forget the magic word: please. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Does your career need a makeover? Are you sure you love what you do?

It did not take me long to read The Career Clinic. The book, by Maureen Anderson, is about ordinary people who took risks to achieve extraordinary things. The book, just like the title imply, is indeed -- a career clinic.
It is comforting to know that, just like you, other people have fears, regrets, disappointments and expectations in their careers. The book introduces you to those people.  You get to travel with them to the turning points in their lives and careers.

We are often advised: follow your passion; do what you love! That would also include breaking boundaries and pulling out all stops to pursue what you were born to do. But really, how many of us do that? How many of us are happy at what they do? Were you born to do what you are doing right now? I’m talking about your job. Are you enjoying it? Do you love it? If "yes", Good for you! If  "not" (Who are you fooling?) What are you doing about it? These are some of the questions that you get to ask yourself as you read this book. 

The Career Clinic gives you tips to consider:
1.      Have no regrets, it is the only way to living a guilt-free life; and making mistakes helps you to learn.

2.       Talk to yourself. It is not insanity. Let that inner voice come to life, don’t ignore your intuition.

3.       Stop. Wait. Breathe. Take a break to reflect (I think this is the level I’m at right now (February 2012). I’m glad to see that I’m on the right track. It’s not abnormal. It’ not unheard of.  It’s a step that only the brave dare to take. 

4.       Ask for free samples. If you can test-drive a car before you buy it and try on the clothes in a shop before you pay for them, why can’t you test the waters of a career you want to follow? If it does not tickle you fancy you simply get to say: thank you very much, I’ll pass.

5.       Say yes! Yes to life, yes to new opportunities.  Dare to challenge your old beliefs and systems. Who put them in place in the first place?

6.       Have fun. If you stop having fun, you stop enjoying it, it then becomes a routine. Am I hitting a nerve here?
7.       Try something new if you stop having fun. (Exactly!)

If you, like me, enjoy reading inspirational and motivational content, you are going to enjoy reading this book. Accepting that I had finished to read it and that I had to put it down felt like saying goodbye to a friend, not knowing when I’d see them again. Yes, it made that kind of an impact.

Stepping up

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lillian Dube chats to me about how she beat cancer

Talk about laugher is the best medicine
Breast cancer used to be more common among white women and women over 40, but there are increasing cases of breast cancer in black women and women younger than 30. The key is to detect breast cancer early so that you can get treatment and increase your chance of survival.

Who is at risk?
Anyone can get breast cancer, but you are more at risk if your diet is high in fat, if you don’t exercise regularly, are overweight, drink more than two glasses of alcohol per day and if you have a family history of breast cancer.

You are also at a higher risk if you are over 40, if you started your period at a young age, went through menopause at a late stage and if you had children after the age of 40 or not at all.
Symptoms include a lump in your breast, unusual swelling, puckering of the skin (like an orange peel), a sore or rash, pain, discharge from the nipple and indentation of the nipple (instead of pointing out and forward, it is pointing sideways or inwards).

Lillian Dube
All cancer patients and survivors will tell you that finding out they had cancer and then undergoing treatment, was one of the biggest challenges they had ever faced. The physical effects of the treatment are tough with a many side effects, but it is also a psychological and emotional challenge.
Popular actress, Lillian Dube, is a breast cancer survivor who didn’t let the disease dampen her positive spirit. The bubbly and outspoken actress is renowned for her role as the matriarch and matron Sister Bettina in the TV drama Soul City. She also stars in SABC 2’s Muvhango.

Lillian is a very busy lady; everyone wants a piece of her. Her phone keeps on interrupting us, but she manages to tell me how her acting career started. “I was encouraged by my son to get into TV back in the 1980s. He heard on the radio that there were auditions in Johannesburg. He even got a telephone number and address for me,” she says. “At that time I was working as a credit clerk at a retail.”
She is now working on season two of the TV series, Skwizas, which is being produced by her production company: Lillian Dube Productions.

Cancervive campaign
Diagnosed with the disease in December 2007, Lillian was operated on in January 2008 to remove the tumor. She subsequently received chemotherapy treatment every three days for four months and radiotherapy for 30 days as a safety measure to ensure that potentially remaining microscopic cancer cells were totally destroyed.
“I am an only child, I have only one child and I’m a divorcĂ©, so I received most of the support from the community and my co-workers,” said Lillian.

“I am active in creating breast cancer awareness through talks and presentations. I’m now part of the new Cancervive campaign that educates and creates awareness about the shy-cancers. I’m also a member of Bosom Buddies, which is another breast cancer support group, and I have founded a Breast Health Foundation in Lesotho in 2008”.

Lillian’s cancer was discovered in a routine check-up. The first mammogram didn’t detect the tumor; the radiographer only noticed it when she went again the following year. “Because early detection is key, I appeal to women over the age of 40 to go for annual mammograms,” she said.
Treatment for breast cancer depends on the stage at which the cancer is detected. It may include surgically removing the tumor and a mastectomy – removal of the affected breast.
A double mastectomy is when both breasts are removed. Radiotherapy is administered to kill cancer cells that may have remained after surgery. Chemotherapy is when powerful drugs are used intravenously and in tablet form to kill the cancer cells internally.

A print version of this article was published in Vuk'uzenzele February 2012 edition.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Who makes a fuss about a small error in a community newspaper? I do (Singular vs Plural)

Ok, I don't think I'm abnormal. I also don't think I'm crazy -- OK  maybe just a little. I'm also not a perfectionist. I'm just a little bit passionate about a few things. "Words" are one of them. They have to make sense. They have to be true and correct. I know a whole lot of people who are like that too. They are called copy- or sub-editors, proofreaders, word-smiths, word engineers, and so forth.

I had just woken up. It must have been 11.15am. I know I'm one of the most envied person right now. I sleep and wake up at whatever time I want to. I don't answer to anyone. (Damn I've always wanted to say that) Let me repeat it: I don't answer to anyone. No more crazy traffic in the morning, no more rat-race for me, and definitely no more waking up in the early morning. (Well except for Saturday mornings when I have to get up at 4am to prepare for my 6am to 9am radio show.) And this is how things are going to be for me, at least, for quite a while.
I am watching you.

So the first thing I did was grab a copy of a local newspaper. Page 1, page 2, then on page 3, I picked up my phone and called the editor/manager. He's not in. So I asked for his e-mail address:

Dear Mr Dlamini

My name is Refilwe Thobega. I was paging through the Express Northern Cape dated Wednesday 1 February when I could not help but notice a glaring subbing error.

It is on page 3, main story, headline: Shucks, there's holes in the condom.

The story is about three million freely available Choice condoms in the Free State, which have been recalled because some had holes. 

It cannot be there "is" if there are "holes".
It should have been there're (there are) because there are not one, but many holes.

Plural and not singular.

Another question: were the holes on only one condom or on a number of condoms?
Answer: there were holes on three million condoms.

"Shucks, there're holes in condoms" could have been the correct headline.

I just thought I should bring this to your attention, sir.

Please just check for errors such as these in the future. Don't underestimate your  readers. An average newspaper team should know the difference between singular and plural.

Kind Regards
Refilwe Thobega

Then I pressed the "send" button. What would I do without my Blackberry?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

People who are true food lovers will always say that eating is an emotional experience. From that point of view, Aimee Bender tells the story of Rose Edelstein who experiences her adolescence through the emotions that she tastes in the food she eats.

When Rose turns nine her mother bakes a special lemon cake for her, and this is where Rose's food tasting journey starts. Rose is horrified with the realisation that she knows what people feel when she eats the food they prepare.

Reality, Rose discovers, is stranger than fiction.

Aimee Bender writes heartbreaking prose that makes you giggle at one point and then plunges you in deep depression the next. She writes her characters in such a way that the reader can identify with them in all circumstances. We have all felt these emotions. We just did not realise that they are evident in the food we prepare or eat.

A thoroughly enjoyable book to read with such beautiful writing, that once you start, you just continue to turn the pages until you realise that the story is done and life goes on again.

Reviewer: Antonia Vermeulen

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Things are to be used and people are to be loved.

People are meant to be loved.

A co-worker just sent me a message on BBM titled: Loved vs Used.
It says:
While a man was polishing his new car, his six-year-old son picked up a stone and scratched lines on the side of the car. In anger, the man took the child’s hand and hit it many times, not realising he was using a wrench.

At the hospital, the child lost all his fingers due to multiple fractures. When the child saw his father … with painful eyes he asked “Dad when will my fingers grow back”. The man was hurt and speechless, he went back to his car and kicked it many times. Devastated by his own actions, sitting in front of that car he looked at the scratches, the child had written: “love you dad”. The next day that man committed suicide.

The message continues:
Anger and Love have no limits, choose the latter to have a beautiful and lovely life. Things are to be used and people are to be loved. But the problem in today’s world is that people are used and things are loved.

In this year let us be careful to keep this thought in mind. Things are to be used and people are to be loved. Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actins, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character it becomes your destiny.

This made me think of the situation that I had with my mom over the weekend. We got home from Resego Mogodi’s funeral (Rest in Peace nana) and we were flippin’ tired, so we both napped.

She woke up before me and realised that my car was not under the shade anymore. While trying to park it nicely, she scratched it on the side against a heap of bricks that were close by.


She woke me up immediately to show me and to apologise. I was furious, but tried to contain my anger. Mistakes happen, you know. But, damn, I was mad!

But now, after reading this message from Tendai, I’m reminded that indeed things are meant to be used and people are meant to be loved.
What’s the fuss about? My mom promised to pay for its fixing? So why was I so mad?

We place so much value on material things. How would I feel if things were the other way round? How would I feel if my mom was hit by a car, instead of my mom scratching the car? Now that would be devastating.

Honestly, I rather she scratched the car and she was not harmed. A car is a car, it can be fixed, it can be sold, it can be replaced and as for my mom on the other had – she’s the only mom I have and I can never replace her and life without her would be not imaginable. 

I’m glad that a friend forwarded this message to me as a reminder that these things are just things and we should instead place more value on the people who love us, who would do anything for us, who want to see us happy and whom life without, would be hell.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Disability is not the end of the road

Musa Zulu

At the age of 23, Musa Zulu was involved in a tragic car accident that left him paralysed from the waist down. At 27, he became the director of KwaZulu-Natal Asiphephe (Let us be safe) Road Safety Project, a sub-directorate within the Department of Transport. “Our task was to reduce the number of road crashes that have led to so many deaths and cases of disability,” he says.

Zulu took time out of this busy schedule of being a motivational speaker and being involved in road safety campaigns to speak to me. The father of two daughters, Swazi (8) and Ziyanda (5) says the disability has changed his life in a sense that it’s difficult to never walk again.” Then he jokes: “The nice part is that my shoes never go old.” 
He says he remembers the night of the accident clearly. “I was young and careless. I hit a wall as a result of speeding. Now I tell people never to speed. They should only speed in their minds.”

At the time of the accident, he was working for Tongaat Mushrooms as senior personnel manager. A week before the accident, his employer informed him that he was earmarked for a promotion at head office in Johannesburg. Things were going very well for him as he was also talking to his partner about getting married.
But then his whole life changed and things were very hard after the paralysis. He lost his job (early retirement) and his girlfriend of two-and-a-half years left him. “Suddenly, all was gone and tears formed a veil through which I viewed life. I did not want to believe that it happened to me.
“After a full year of pain and wishing for a miracle, I realised that my family and close friends were beginning to lose hope that I would ever find a reason to smile again. My sorrow was affecting them as well, especially my father. I pulled myself together and vowed never to bow to failure again.”
Zulu says that listening to music gave him strength. Seeing other disabled people striving to live full lives made him want to achieve the same.

Zulu has always had great enthusiasm and energy for life. In 1989 at the age of 17, he started his university studies in social science.
“I have always been attracted to community development initiatives and issues. Social science offered me the opportunity to study my society and understand its dynamics. My wish was to make a difference, particularly to the marginalised black population whose lives have been disrupted by years of political oppression,” says Zulu.
He left the university towards the end of 1994 to join Tongaat Mushrooms. During his brief stay there, he initiated many changes that uplifted workers. “I was paralysed shortly after completing the job descriptions of all employees ­– an exercise that saw many employees receiving improved salaries because of a well-defined job grading system. Then came the accident,” he says.
In 1998, he visited the State of Victoria in Australia to see how they dealt with road crashes. “Apparently the state has one of the lowest road death/crash records in the world”, he says. While there, he met people from various disability organisations to learn from them how they assisted their government to meet the needs of the disabled.
Zulu says: “Before the end of 1998, I was part of the Department of Transport’s team that launched the first buses for the disabled – fully equipped with hydraulic lifts to provide easy access. Three of these buses are in operation in KwaZulu-Natal.”

He has since joined forces with his disabled friends and formed a support group. “Happiness revisited me. I found myself wanting to win back my sense of independence and control.” He bought himself a car and started visiting newly disabled people in hospitals.
 “While I was in hospital my father told me that everything happens for a purpose. I did not know what he meant then, but today I have found my purpose in life – to show the world that there is always a bright sky after a storm if we believe,” concludes Zulu.
Zulu says today he is happy to say that: “I have found a ‘home’ in my situation of disability. There is nothing that I cannot do. I have grown and matured as a result of the accident. I am truly blessed. I don’t live with regrets and my advice to people is to love life and be safe. 

A print version of this piece was published in Vuk'uzenzele January 2012.