THIS, IS A RAAANNNTT!!!

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RANT

I know I have been away from the blogging scene for a while and have failed to keep up with this blog. If you have been keeping up with my writing though, I am sure you have seen a couple of my not-very-politically-correct articles published elsewhere, on my timeline. Before I get on with this post however, I would like to sincerely thank you all for the support with my previous blog and more so, the support with this new one – many thanks to all those who have signed up, and also those who have not, but still read my thoughts!

I recently applied for an internship with a big media organisation. I honestly doubt I will be getting that internship as I chose to write a 500 word essay on race, as part of the application requirements although I could have chosen to write a piece echoing the beauty of the world or something more PC driven.

I mention this because part of that essay also looked at the role of social media in contemporary society, and this little excerpt was my ending:

Social media is arguably the most powerful tool of contemporary society. As with all things powerful, it has the potential for both good and evil. As much as we have become interconnected and the phrase “it’s a small world” could not be more apparent, we have also lost touch with our core values as humanity, substituting action and emotion, for like and re-tweet buttons.

We have become zombies who act on trending values, instead of personal beliefs. Social media has become a tool that controls us, rather than a tool we use. How else, can we explain Marcus Garvey rallying over 6,000,000 people in the 1920’s?

Before you say things have changed, consider that statement. Have they really?

As the title so obviously points out, this post, is a rant. Before I get to ranting though, let me say that this may offend some; friends and foes alike, and for that, I am unapologetic. If this post offends you, then I believe it is YOU this message is intended for. If it does not, then it should not be a problem :)

As I am scrolling down my timeline, I see a post on the Nuba Mountains, by a friend I once asked to accompany me to a protest in solidarity with the Nuba Mountains, who turned down my invitation  because she just “could not be asked”.

Then I see a post by another friend on the Israeli occupation of Gaza… A friend I once asked to accompany me to a talk on the realities of the situation on ground, in Palestine, who turned down my invitation because he was just “not that interested”.

Next, I see post… well, you get my point.

I have come to a realisation that some people post things to be relevant, or to appear as though they care. We are too consumed in appearance and how we come off than in the values we actually stand for when there is no one to like, share, retweet or favourite our beautifully written sentiments.

And yes, you are right! It should not bother me. But it does!

If all the people who post about things, actually did anything to change things, humankind would achieve much progress. My point therefore is simple; either do something about the things you post about, WHERE YOU CAN, or stop posting beautifully wrapped sentiments. Those colourful ribbons that come along with your status’ are not going to stop the genocide in Congo, free the people of the Nuba mountains, shelter the IDP’s in Kenya or stop Israeli occupation of Gaza.

Disagree? That is absolutely fine. As the saying goes, “if two wise men always agree, then there is no need for one of them”. However, before you criticise, something you have all rights to do, pay close attention to the highlighted phrase, “WHERE YOU CAN”, above. It is worth noting also, that I am in NO WAY, discrediting the role of social media; the arab spring is testament to the power of social media. What I am against, is cosmetic revolutionarism and hypocrisy a.k.a headless zombies who act on trending values, instead of personal beliefs and personal values.

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‘BUSINESS AGENDA’S GEORGE NDIRANGU ON WHAT IT TAKES TO SUCCEED: ‘INGENUITY, CONTINUITY & POSITIVITY’

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My Interview with George Ndirangu. This interview was originally posted on Face2Face Africa.

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“My bank account motivates me to keep going, until I reach a point where I can sustain the lifestyle I want, without my account depreciating” (George Ndirangu)

The African continent has been subject to many narratives, both within, and beyond Africa’s borders. Among the many narratives is one that proclaims this generation a “lost” one. Whereas some of us are, indeed caught up in the high life of drugs, alcohol, and sex, among other vices, I believe the notion of the “lost generation” is in itself reductionist, because there are also the go-getters and the-ceiling-can’t-hold-us movers and shakers who refuse to settle for average when they can be the best. With the goal of not only balancing the narrative but also using their stories to inspire other young people, Face2Face Africa decided to interview George Ndirangu (pictured), a 24-year-old business analyst, news anchor, host of the talk show “Business Agenda” with TV10 Rwanda, and CEO of Kenya’s Fashion 2Die4 in order to spotlight an achiever whose drive is limitless.

Sanna Arman: Tell me a little about your background; who are you and where do you come from?

George Ndirangu: I was born in Mombasa (Kenya) and later moved to Nairobi. We first lived in the Eastern side of Nairobi, and when my mum’s income improved, we moved to Thika Road, where I grew up. I went to Kagumo High School in Nyeri and pursued my degree in Actuarial Science at Jomo Kenyatta University.

Who am I? I’m a 24-year-old man who believes that you can never settle for less than what you envision, so every single day, ever since I understood the meaning of accomplishing something and reaping the benefits of it, I’ve been trying to accomplish more.

I have not been able to reach some of my objectives, maybe I’ve just done one out of a thousand, but I intend to just keep pushing myself to the limit until I reach a point where I no longer have to introduce myself to people.

SA: How did you get to where you are today?

GN: First of all, prayer is every single thing. I was having a prayerful meditational moment earlier at my place today. Something happened, I got a phone call, which I’ll probably be having another interview with you on soon, but I’m not going to tell you now, so I don’t jinx it.

But my point is, God is everything and I can’t even imagine life without God.

Also, my family: mum, dad, sisters, and brother. My mum is always pushing and encouraging me. She is always reminding me to act grown, be mature, and not try to simply blend in. My dad is always supporting me in my decisions and offering advice. They are some of the most realistic people I know.

My small brother is always looking up to me, wondering what he can do next in life; he plays violin, he plays the piano, which I have no idea how to play, and this always motivates me.

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“In a world where only the best survive, you have to stand out, to fit in” (George Ndirangu)

SA: What strategies did you use to get to this point, or what would you say made you stand out from the crowd?

GN: Growing up in Nairobi, one of the problems I faced was that I invested too much In to things that did not make sense. You know, “fake it till you make it’?” I wanted to stand out, be the coolest guy, or look like the guy who had a certain thing before someone else.

When I outgrew my teens, I understood that I really have just one life and I can keep making mistakes, but every time I make a mistake, it affects either my life or someone else’s life.

My social media, for example my Twitter, went from just ranting or making fun of people to not engaging, in say, trending topics that bring someone down. As a friend and I were discussing sometime back, you should never be basic or predictable to people. If you have a girlfriend for example, keep people guessing; who is she? Where is she, etc.? Always leave room for some mystery and have an element of surprise. This applies in the case of future employers or investors and is a strategy I try to use in my workplace.

When you have an element of surprise and bring something to the table, you can also feel free to eat from the same table.

SA: You’ve clearly got your foot in the three cornerstone fields of contemporary society; fashion, media, and finance, among others. How do you manage to maintain balance?

GN: I have an app on my phone called “ToDoist.” It’s an application that gives you points every time you schedule something and do it. My aim is usually to get as many points as possible by the end of the week, by accomplishing as much as I had set out to do.

I plan my day from Monday to Friday: every single hour.

I don’t believe in someone calling me up randomly asking to meet. If we hadn’t planned for it, then we have to meet up some other time.

Being able to juggle among fashion, working here in the media, working for the UNDP, working for schools, and working in the finance industry is all a matter of planning. Once you plan out your time, everything works out.

Improvisation, on the other hand, is also an important skill for times when things don’t work out as initially planned out.

SA: What would you say is lacking in the African media and fashion industries today?

GN: African media and the fashion industry to a certain extent lacks ingenuity. There are hardly any ideas from self. At least a good number of the ideas are copied from somewhere, be it West, East and implemented in a way applicable to the given environment.

I know African fashion has been borrowed by the West, for example Louis Vuitton and even some of the African fabrics have been picked out by VLISCO, but our fashion industry is simply emulating what has been done; modeling, blogging, fashion sites etc., and the thing with what’s been done is that, that hardly stands out.

African people are blessed with a ton of ideas, however, even where there is ingenuity, in some cases there is lack of continuity.

This is why my new mantra is ingenuity, continuity, and positivity. When I manage to get an idea that is self-made, I want to ensure I [follow] through with it and also keep a positive mind-set.

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“Ingenuity… Continuity… And Positivity” (George Ndirangu)

SA: I don’t know much about the finance industry, but it is said to be one of the hardest industries to thrive in. Do you agree?

GN: I wouldn’t say it’s one of the hardest to thrive in, because once you get into it, you know what you want – whether you want to be a clerk, accountant, chief financial officer etc. It is only as hard as the level you want to be in as different levels and posts have different requirements. The biggest problem is that you never deviate unless you start your own firm.

SA: What would you say are the biggest challenges the finance industry faces in Africa?

GN: The biggest challenges that I have seen are either lack of exposure or lack of proper training. There is hardly any real training or mentorship. I was working at the ministry of housing in the finance sector, where I would handle large amounts of money, but I hardly had any mentorship. That, I believe, is the greatest challenge.

SA: Unemployment is one of the challenges facing the African youth today. How do you think young people in Africa can deal with unemployment? And what advice would you give them?

GN: “This is something we’ve talked about in so many conventions. It is such a tricky topic to discuss. My advice to young people is that you simply need to get off your *ss, go out there, and look for a job as much as possible and network with the people around you.

If not, develop a solid plan to employ yourself and search for investors. In most countries right now, especially here in Rwanda, they are advocating more for entrepreneurship, and young people are actually getting a lot of sponsorship.

I usually hand people the cheque sometimes and think, Oh damn, I wish this was me.”

Entrepreneurship really is the way forward.

You also need to know what works and what doesn’t as well as what your financial capability allow for. For example right now, unless you definitely have the financial means, I wouldn’t advise anyone to invest in a print fashion magazine. An online platform would be better off.

SA: Speaking of Africa, you have traveled around quite a bit. What is a common factor you find among African people that you can’t find elsewhere?

GN: “Africans have so much culture!

They have a solid base and always know where they come from. People say that Africans leave to go abroad and they forget where they came from. I beg to differ. Africans always remember where they come from, down to the little towns where their grandparents live.

Africans have so much culture that can be seen even in the way they dance; Africans are the best dancers, no doubt. Well, apart from Shakira.

They also have a sense of pride in where they are from.

SA: What are some of the challenges you face on a daily and how do you deal with them?

GN: As with most people, my image is one of the things I take very seriously. At some point, I had an issue with my weight, and it took some people to help me get through it or fitting in to a new environment and trying to do things I have no experience in. These are some of the challenges I faced.

One of the lowest points in my life was when KQ turned me down, and I swore that I would get my own plane one day. One of the people who auditioned would be the pilot. I realized that it doesn’t matter where you come from, how you struggled to get to where you are, or how hard you have worked, but whether you qualify for a role.

How I deal with these challenges is by being realistic with myself and knowing that people don’t care about all the other things, only productivity and results.

Another challenge I faced was how to present myself on social media and the public stream, and what not to let out. If you are blessed with the opportunity to be a news anchor, you must present yourself responsibly. For this, I had to mature both mentally and in how I dressed and presented myself.

SA: Lastly, what is success to you, and in a similar vein, what is failure?

GN: Success for me, as I previously mentioned, is reaching a point where you don’t have to introduce yourself. You reach a point where you stop looking at a picture thinking, I want to go there, but I’ve been there. Not I want that jet, but “oh wow, maybe my jet should be the same color.

Success for me also means reaching a point where everyone who has been with you (your inner/immediate circle) is also reaping the benefits of your happiness. I can therefore sum success up as happiness, not necessitating an introduction, and sustaining a lifestyle effortlessly.

Failure to me is just giving up on what you had set your eyes on, from the simplest of things to the more complicated.

I would like to congratulate Mr. Ndirangu on his show “Business Agenda,” co-hosted by Fiona Mbabazi, which has been picked for a second season, premiering in August, with a $20,000 boost from the Rwanda Creative Hub.

Watch Ndirangu at work on “Business Agenda” here:

Predicaments Of The Black Man: A Twitter Sent Solution

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Listening intently, twenty-four year old Vera Sidika strokes her $2100 Brazilian weave as she answers the TV Host’s questions. At some points she seems uncomfortable and offended by some of his questions as she responds with quizzical dis-ease. Amongst many things, they discuss her recent ventures into what she would prefer to term ‘skin lightening’ and not ‘skin bleaching’; skin bleaching is when you use over the counter products, whereas skin lightening is “done the right way”, she explains. Fifteen minutes into the interview, in a rather politically correct way of asking “can you show our audience your infamous backside?”, the host asks her to accompany him to the touch screen at the right hand side of the studio to converse about her instagram pictures as the cameras follow her voluptuous posterior.

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Following the release of the interview(watch it here), the #BleachedBeauty hashtag was trending with mostly Kenyans but also non-Kenyans expressing their concern over Kenya’s socialite Vera Sidika’s new complexion. Insults aimed at Miss Sidika flood in in their thousands. Others create memes and it soon turns into an undeclared competition of who will out-do the previous meme and who will, in 140 characters make the best joke and gather the most re-tweets or get the little star under their tweet turning yellow with the most favorites.

Tweeps find a solution to skin bleaching; name and shame all individuals who bleach. Photos of the before and afters take over. Twitter philosophers guarantee you that these women and men are to blame for young black girls and boys feeling uncomfortable in their skin and they should be named and shamed.

They seem to be well versed in the untold story of how world problems in the past have been solved, how their nations gained independence from the colonialists or how slavery came to be abolished. Let us be clear here. I am not talking about the civil rights movement, the Rosa Parks’ who refused to give up their dignity or the “criminals” who fought oppression in Africa, not at all. That is not the true story of how the black man gained his independence. The true story you were probably oblivious of is that every black man who submitted to the white man and did not rebel was the problem. He was the reason slavery advanced, and the reason slavery existed. The likes of Dedan Kimathi, Kwame Nkurumah, Jomo Kenyatta, Partice Lumumba, even Malcom X did not fight the Eurocentric worldview or white supremacy. No. They did not even think there is a system that considered the black man, his skin, hair, and culture inferior. Name and shame was how YOU, as a black man, gained your independence.

In that order, name and shame all the insecure individuals bleaching their skin. Let us derive humor from their insecurities; more so, stab them with the sharpest daggers in your vocabulary. Matter of fact, our friends on twitter present a solution to most of the problems contemporary society faces. You know that woman who submits to her husband and stays in the kitchen? Let us all blame her for why patriarchy still exists today. The kid coming home from school to drive a blade into his skin, let us all blame him for why bullying still exists. The young girl sleeping with high profile individuals to fend for her family living in the slums, she is the reason many girls are doing the same.

Dear black men and women, I urge you all to join the fight against skin bleaching by naming and shaming all those who bleach their skin. It is the most practical solution. Do not question why ‘light skin’ is promoted in lyrics of mainstream music. Do not question why the billboards are promoting the Eurocentric idea of the ultimate beauty. Do not question why white privilege still exists. Do not even question why your local media stations would spend airtime showing you the ultimate idea of beauty on the runways, but those are rarely men or women who look like your sister. Do not even bother with the parts of the interview where Vera Sidika says she gets better treatment as a lighter woman IN AFRICA. Ignore all the root causes of bleaching because that would be an extremely shallow way of thinking.

A Toast To A Life Well Lived

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When you were younger, they told you, you are too skinny or too fat, no curves, too curvy, no ass… You got older, and they said you are too fat, too skinny, no curves, too curvy, fat ass, no ass, too buff.

Now spend the rest of your life allowing these narratives to dictate how you feel about yourself; too fat, too skinny, too curvy, too short, too buff, too tall, large forehead…

Take the passenger seat and let others take the wheel… Stop wearing those swim suits you like, or that hugging tshirt that shows your ‘beer belly’ because you don’t have the ultimate 6pack or the ultimate flat stomach… 

Spend your days looking in the mirror cursing out all those parts of your body THEY don’t like… In some years, raise a glass, toast to just how much value those opinions added to your life.

Celebrate that you lived your life trying to fit into others’ idea of perfection. You will be so fulfilled, many will wish they lived more like you. Then smile, and say you lived YOUR life :)

Still She Rises!

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Dr Maya Angelou,

You once said “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

With all due respect, I beg to differ and dare say you are an exception to that rule; for it is what you said and what you did, that makes me feel the way I do. Thus your words, remain tattooed in my mind and your magnanimity, deeply entrenched in my heart.

Moreover, should I ever forget who I am, instead choosing not to defy a system that was created to alienate, you will always be there to remind me, that

“Out of the huts of history’s shame,

I rise!

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain,

I rise!

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear,

I rise!

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear,

I rise!

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise!

I rise!

I rise!”

Even in passing, you continue to rise, as all you have left behind, with such admirable prowess, continue to achieve the desired effect of empowering.

For teaching me the power of narration, the power of words; that words like daggers, can be used to inflict pain or like gentle rain, pouring like tears from a child’s face, can be used to liberate, THANK YOU!

May your BEAUTIFUL SOUL rest in eternal peace.

No! Thank YOU!

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“… thank you so much for the warm reception …”

“Thank you so much for the warm reception” read the email from my dad following a recent visit.

MY DAD…

The man whose taught me not to accept anything short of respect from anyone, and most importantly, GIVE that respect I expect to everyone…

Who 21 years ago, with no idea how, was determined to give me the best in life, having barely enough to think of 1 year later, knew I would one day stand, 21 years later, an educated lady, looking to leave an impact of my own in life…

The man who held back on a bigger wardrobe, to expand my bookshelf, getting me numerous books on history and the lives of the great men who came before us, sitting me down after every read to find out what I gathered from the books (I suppose this was also his way of ensuring I actually read the books – smart move dad, it worked)…

Who would take me, with my sister on his shoulder, to Nando’s for ice-cream every single time he came home, just so he could see the smile on our faces when we eagerly yelled out “vanilla-strawberry” to the cashier lady…

The man who first taught me how to use a fork and knife at a busy restaurant and when my mum thought this was embarrassing because the waiters were looking our way (lol) said in arabic “ma halium yi aenu, di biti” (Let them look, she’s my daughter)…

Who would… Okay, I could go on, but you get the point.

THIS MAN, MY FATHER, had the nerve, to write to me, saying thank you for a few hours I spent with him. Well maybe it was for the suit I picked up for him at the dry cleaners; after all, what is 21 years of hard sweat, that will have me, in a few months, standing to receive a certificate acknowledging my completion of an LLM in International Commercial Law, compared to picking up a suit at the dry-cleaners right?


Dad,

Remember last september when you asked me to change your facebook profile picture to one of my graduation pictures? I suggested putting up one of the family photos we took on my graduation, to which you said, “no, you have to be considerate; not everyone has a family like we do, and so your photo alone, is enough to celebrate your graduation”. 

To you, this was a statement made in passing. To me, this was one of the many times your beautiful soul shines… Like that time I referred to the man on the wheelchair in the town centre as ‘disabled’ and you said “Sanna I didn’t know you are insensitive like this. He might not do things the way you and I do, but HE IS ABLE IN HIS OWN WAY”.

To some you are a villain, to others a hero… To me, you are MY FATHER. A father who has not taught me how to live, but lived, and through how you have lived, and continue to live, I have learnt, and continue to learn. So NO! THANK YOU!!! Nothing I do, will ever come close to deserving a ‘thank you’ from you… Similarly, nothing I do, will ever be a ‘thank you’ enough. The best I can do, is live to honour the person you are; through my actions, by showing the most compassion and care for others, as you have, and always believe in humanity, like you do… To always preserve my dignity, as you have, and live by my principles, like you do.

Should I ever fail, this would be a failing on my part, NEVER YOURS.

You always say “human life is not measured by mere existence because life is short, but by what you leave behind”. All the sacrifices you have made in life, all the nights you have spent up working for the greater good, and all the lives you have touched, and continue to touch, you sure walk the talk. I am thankful I have the greatest pleasure of knowing and having you for a father and I look forward to many more years of laughter, scolding, love and a continuing shared belief in Humanity! And all those great books on the great men you gave me, and still give me to read, all the great men you always talk to me about, YOU sir, are amongst those men. And one day, I too, will share your story and your book, written by myself of course ;), with my daughter so she knows her worth, like you’ve taught me mine, and understands the big shoes any man, will have to fill, like I do.

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With much respect, and indescribable love,

Sanna.

P.s Knowing the incredibly humble being you are, I know you are about to ask me to remove this post, and that request, I politely decline in advance. Love you!

Wofa and Mum, sorry my loves, this was a father-first daughter affair :p <3

Such Is Cosmetic Revolutionarism: Part II

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A friend posted this and I thought it was worth sharing on here.

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“Cosmetic revolutionarism, this should be a new hashtag. A friend of mine actually introduced me to the term about a year and a half ago. It’s very apt isn’t it? It surmises the majority of today’s freedom fighters quite appropriately. Today the world will stand against BOKO-HARAM, just as yesterday it stood against the atrocities in Ukraine and before that in Syria and before that? Wait what was before that by the way, I can’t seem to remember, well it’s not like it’s trending on my Twitter feed anymore, mite as well go back to some TV show or another.

Now let me ask you this, have you ever heard of the greatest generation? I’m sure you haven’t, not many people have you see, and those that have don’t really talk about them all that much anymore. Back in the old world, war forged men, it forged heroes, amidst a sea of corpses men and women rose up to the full height of their glory and fought back against oppression and injustices, they fought on soil that was not their own, with brothers and sisters they had never met before war brought them together. They were the greatest generation because they fought for something and continued fighting for it till the bitter end.

Now don’t get me wrong they did some God awful things, (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) but in the end the world stood together against a common enemy. They weren’t fictional characters or extra ordinary people, in actuality they were children who grow up in the poverty and struggle of the great depression of the 30′s, and when they were finally old enough to carve out some semblance of a life for themselves, bloodshed and war came to their doors and they simply answered.

Today however, bloodshed and war doesn’t come to our doors but they do come to our Television screens and our Twitter feeds, and on our Facebook walls. But what do we do? We hashtag the simplest phrase and move on, because that is enough, and sometimes it is. But what about when it’s not? Today’s public consciousness suffers from severe short-term memory loss. However there is a cure but you are probably not gonna like it. It’s called activism, how many of you keep up with the Kardashians? Why not keep up with the Syrians or keep up with the politics of your own country? Simply follow a cause, there are so many of them trust me, you want an end to Boko-haram then please don’t stop at #bringbackourgirls. No, go the extra mile; condemn the Nigerian government that allowed them to be in such a situation in the first place, go after the establishment don’t get amnesia simply because the media loses interest, you are the new media. Cosmetic revolutionaries we aren’t bad people, we are good people actually but we could be better people. And you don’t even have to quit your day job.”

By Musa Oladapo Giwa

Such is Cosmetic Revolutionarism

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About a year ago, we took to the streets wearing hoodies and holding up signs with slogans like ‘I am Trayvon Martin’, ‘Justice for Trayvon Martin’, ‘Post-Racial America does exist’… Twitter blew up, Facebook blew up, Instagram blew up, and all other social networks. All in demand for justice. Two weeks ago, the same social networks blew up again, this time Donald Sterling was trending. It didn’t take long before Sterling was kicked to the curb. The past week the world has been united in one cause: showing solidarity with the families of the 200+ girls kidnapped in Nigeria and demanding for the finding of these girls and that efforts geared towards this, are increased.

Today, all those that marched, have forgotten about Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. No one is talking so much about racial inequality in the system.

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All the keyboard warriors have been quiet because Mr Sterling has a lifetime ban from the NBA  which of course, solves the problem. Institutional racism did after all, begin with Donald Sterling and this ban on Sterling means all blacks now have equal employment opportunities and equal college acceptance rates. YAY! The system is now a just one.

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In a few days, maybe a week or so, regardless of whether the missing girls are found or not, we will stop protesting and begin to show solidarity with the families solely via social media. This too will come to pass.

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We will then press pause on our activism, waiting for the next Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Donald Sterling and another Missing girls bandwagon to trend and jump on it. In the meantime, let’s all watch some REALITY TV.

Sorry what was that?

The rape of underage girls and women in Congo?

The bombing of hospitals, schools and villages in Sudan?

Child trafficking in Pakistan?

Child labor in Burundi?

Child soldiers in South Sudan?

The marginalisation of whites in South Afrika?

How the music I listen to promotes violence and substance abuse?

Apartheid in Palestine?

The ‘war against terror’?…

Erm, excuse me… I don’t think you heard me right. Those are called DOCUMENTARIES, not REALITIES. I’m talking about those where individuals are paid to act a fool, show me how glamorous their lives are, once in a while throw in some drama for some balance, or go to the beach, party, have sex *repeat cycle*, for me to press pause on my life and help them make a shit load of money while at it. That reality. You know Jersey Shore, Basketball Wives, Keeping up with the Kardashians e.t.c?

And dare they cancel these REALITY SHOWS! We shall raise all hell until this demand is met with some supply. POWER TO THE PEOPLE! 

Broken | Poem

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Sat on the wooden chair with a phlegmatic slouch,
She stares at the candlelight as it burns out,
The voices around her slowly begin to fade,
As she is drawn into the memories time never forbade.

Remembering the day his fist first met her eye,
As if to announce its presence not at all shy,
It staged a grand entry notwithstanding it was at the wrong place,
Tattooing a black circle for her face to embrace.

Society made it taboo that needn’t be mentioned,
The voices within her said she was wrong to have questioned,
Others said it’s just the first time no need to complicate,
He said it was a mistake that wouldn’t recapitulate.

I suppose what he meant to say was “your face is excused”,
Because it wasn’t too long till her neck was bruised,
Her stomach constantly punched,
Till she wouldn’t go a day untouched.

Sat on the wooden chair with a phlegmatic slouch,
She stares at the candlelight still burning out,
With the voices around her still fading,
She is drawn into the memories time never forbade.

Memories of all the scars her scarf couldn’t cover,
The pain only the liquor bottles could mask,
Remembers her 2 friends,
This puts a smile on her face.

Morgan was fun,
He spiced things up a little,
Gave her life a twist,
An illusion that she could escape her realities.

Johnnie was a listener,
He walked with her,
Didn’t question or judge,
A silent fallacy that with every,
Sip things would get better.

So she remains sat on the wooden chair with a phlegmatic slouch,
The candle light has now burnt out,
And the voices around all faded,
As she is deeply entrenched in the memories time never forbade.

A Lesson from Mandela: Building a Society.

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From a terrorist on a watch list, to a hero deserving a Nobel Peace Prize; a lot has been said about Nelson Mandela. His legacy has been penned by many writers in all forms, his humility, painted in all hues by many creatives and his vision sung by many artists. Some left us in awe, most filled our hearts with sadness over the loss of a great man and others inspired us to shape our own paths in serving humanity and leaving a mark of our own, to be lived through the lives we touch.

For the sake of brevity, I shall not delve into the chronicles of his life, as we all are, certainly, well aware of these. Instead, I will hop right onto the year 1962 when the military wing of the ANC, Umkhonto We Sizwe (spear of the nation) was formed. After coming to terms with the abortive nature of peaceful, non-violent resistance to apartheid laws/regime, the military wing came into force so as to “hit back by all means within [their] power in defense of [their] people, [their] freedom and [their] future”. Following his imprisonment, with his comrades, the work of the ANC continued and violent resistance continued.

As I sit here, I cannot help but ponder whether Mandela would have been the same man we celebrate today had he not been imprisoned. Had he not been imprisoned, would South Africa have seen peaceful days in his time? Wouldn’t there have been even more blood shed between the violent opposition of the ANC and the South African government for many more years? Am I saying his imprisonment was a blessing in disguise? Perhaps.

I can sit here and lament over his 27 years in prison, or I can sit here and reflect on what impact it had on his life and on Mandela.

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Mandela said “… it is a great tragedy to spend the best of your life in prison. But although it looks ironical, there are advantages in that. If I had not been to prison, I would not have been able to achieve the most difficult a task in life, and that is changing yourself. I would not have that opportunity. I had that because in prison, you have what we don’t have in our work outside prison. The opportunity to sit down and think, which is an important part.”

You might be wondering where this article is heading and hoping it would get to the point already. A little patience is all I ask, I’m getting there, so kindly, read on.

I grew up in Kenya. This obviously means that I grew up in a predominantly black society. The struggles of the black man against oppressive racist laws, as I know them today, were insights gained from reading books and or watching numerous documentaries/short films. A week back, if you asked me if reverse racism exists today amongst the black community in the diaspora, I would give a resounding “yes”. Today, not so much. Though I would not be quick to say “no” either, as it would depend on what, in your definition, amounts to racism.

Having spent nearly the last 4 years in England, and interacted with many young and old black men and women who’ve grown up here, or elsewhere in the diaspora, I could tell the clear cut distinction as to how I looked at race and how a young person raised in a predominantly white society does. I remember a friend recently told me “you won’t understand it unless you’ve grown up in a predominantly white society” when I was quick to point out the need, as black people, to take a different approach, instead of the ‘quid pro quo’ mentality.

Today some label Mandela a coward for the peaceful path he chose to take following his release from prison in 1990. His former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, has received her fair share of labels too; to some she was a bitter, vengeful woman, to others, she was not a saint nor sinner. I don’t think it would be too far fetched a claim to say Mandela’s time in prison, allowed him to reflect on the way forward for his country, whereas Winnie’s time outside the prison walls only fueled her anger. And that is what made the difference between both their approaches.

The purpose of this article is not to romanticize Nelson Mandela. Just like any man, he was not without flaws. Similarly, the purpose is not to create an excuse for Winnie’s anger, but an understanding.

My reflections over the difference between Mandela’s and Winnie’s lives have allowed me a chance to look differently at race and why I wouldn’t be so quick to point out reverse racism. As a young person growing up in Africa, I didn’t live in a system where racism was institutional, and I wasn’t born into a society that expects me to fail simply because of the color of my skin. Although different from Mandela, to a much lesser extent, I was in the walls of a symbolic prison, which allowed me to look at race and humanity from a different pair of glasses. A young black person whose grown up in a predominantly white society, although different from Winnie, and to a much lesser extent, was/has been outside the prison walls where they are constantly in a battle for survival.

As a result, today I don’t look at a young black person who has grown up in the diaspora as a bitter person who is just practicing the same hate they have had to endure, but I understand completely how the constant push has affected him/her individually.

However, if there is a lesson to be learnt from Mandela, it is that hate can only beget more hate. To paraphrase Nelson Mandela, ‘you have a limited time to stay on earth, you must try and use that period for the purpose of transforming your [society] into what you desire it to be. A democratic, non-racial, non-sexist [society]. That, as a great task, means you have to reject all negative visions, in your own soul, in your blood system, and focus your attention on the positive things.’

As my father once told me, “the tragedy of human life, is its past, the challenge to human life, is what to do to move forward. This is what made the likes of Mandela, they took the challenge instead of hanging on to the past. We must recognise the need to not necessarily forget the past, but to forgive, in order to build a new society.”

We, as a society, must focus our attention on the positive, and build the society we want, not curse out the society that is without finding ways of transforming it into what we desire it to be. It might not happen tomorrow, in a year, or even five, but the most important question, is what are we doing, to get it there?

This Article was originally published by http://www.thisis2020.com

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