HIV AND THE LONG WALK TO FREEDOM

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Credit: health-wiki

HIV can be referred to as a ‘closet illness’, as those infected fear coming out due to the air of victimization and stigmatization that is attached to it. On the 1st of December we celebrated AIDS day, with the theme for 2017 being; ‘Know your status, Prevention is my responsibility.’ The awareness was aimed at changing the narrative, by stimulating conversation around the illness, as I believe by educating ourselves and promoting dialogue we get to move towards eradicating the stigma and humanizing “the illness”.

Through ‘humanizing’ it means once infected, those infected and those around us who are infected as a collective we get to introspectively comprehend how we treat those infected; that it’s not really a death sentence, that there’s a support system and you won’t be treated as an outcast.

The truth is when one talks about being infected with HIV you met with, I saw that coming because she’s a round heeled woman: she’s promiscuous, sy is n los lappie! (She sleeps around) Or you meet that hot guy and think he’s the one and when he tells you about the positive + he’s all of a sudden an automatic delete, because of assumptions and typecasting. The HIV bubble is all wrapped with shame and disgrace because at times we assume the illness is caused by promiscuity, which is partially true as there are various ways of contracting the illness.

It is concerning how culture and the obnoxious belief that sleeping with a virgin cures one of HIV or the practice of sexual cleansing (where by a girl is forced to sleep with a man when she resumes her menstruation phase), exacerbates eradicating the pandemic.  What saddens me is that at times the virus infiltrates a marriage system tainting the very fabrics that are meant to stabilize the union. In such circumstances the husbands’ infidelity slithers in the sacred garden of marriage, masked with deceit, knocking the wife to the grave and for justification the husband hides behind culture.

There’s a Sotho saying “monna ke selepe wa adimisanwa” (A man is like an axe and may be borrowed) through such cultural systems there exists a patriarchal society that feels compelled to subjugate. As affirmed in a study by Seshabela[1] that “human beings are creatures of culture hence their personalities, desires, ways of behaving and understanding are constructed by the societies which they are born and the traditions they inherit.” It is then culture at times that plays a fundamental role in driving promiscuity that eventually weaves its way through misogyny.

In such circumstances EVE knows nothing else but to obey as the ‘wo’ in the man. How then are we expecting the woman in such demeaning circumstances to stand up for herself when we tell her ‘Preventing the illness is her responsibility?’ We should bear in mind that Africanism in its primary context is traditional, hierarchal and patriarchal with women being at the very bottom of the status quo. In such circumstances the very thought of bringing up the topic of condoms, marriage counselling and HIV testing in a ‘relationship’ is unquestionably taboo, and peeling the layers warrants breaking the chains of religion and culture. However in the same breath breaking the generational cycle entails reconditioning the conservative mind set of our fathers and sons, to a level where ADAM diminishes his objectification of EVE. That when Adam pays lobola (dowry) for Eve he understands that he has no sense of ownership over Eve.

HIV is cunning, deceitful and damaging but none the less manageable. However to my darling friends, and love ones living with the illness I say to you, beautiful soul; when you think you alone and fighting a losing battle just remember that in the words of Ben Okri, “The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.”

[1] Dumisa Olive Seshabela; Walter Ntsimane’s portrayal of women in the radio series MOTLHABANE: 2003

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FAILURE UNMASKED…….

 

Growing up I wish someone had warned me that I shouldn’t be afraid of failing, that I should embrace failure,  nestle her on my bosom with love and gentle strokes of patients; like one would rocking a baby while humming a lullaby. I wish I had tapped into Richard Branson’s school of thought, cause he would have graciously wagged his finger and said, “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” Or how about Henry Ford whispering, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again this time more intelligently,” my child. Where was I when they were dishing out such food for thought, cause in all honesty, those pot holes and speed bumps I have encountered in life, would have been a whole lot smoother and sweeter, had I heeded those words.

Over the years failure has shown up countless times in all her natural glory, leaving me battered, bruised and cooped up in a bubble of sadness and at times nursing a glass of red, with regret. Failure is that ominous cloud hanging in the air forever a reminder of ‘what were you thinking?’, ‘who do you think you are?’ while unleashing a shadow of doubt, second guesses and near misses.

However what maturity has taught me is that, failure is merely a stepping stone to success, that sometimes we need a nudge to a different path in life. As a result with failure we dealt a do over, a clean slate and back to first base moments. After the sulking, tear jerking marathon and ‘why me’ episodes, reality sets in on how to tackle the problem from a different perspective. The beauty about failing is that we dealt with second chances, what happened ‘yesterday’ can be corrected ‘tomorrow’ so to, is the beauty of life.  You fall of a horse, all you have to do is get back up, however the choice of getting up and dusting yourself is easier said than done and takes sheer courage and determination. That’s all it takes for the sparks of success to be ignited; courage and perseverance. It was Winston Churchill who once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

It takes guts and determination to bounce back and to bounce back even better than you were before. Cause this time you able to discover tenacity and zeal and realize your utmost potential to overcome, to endure, to succeed. Sometimes we need failure to remind us of our goal in life, we need failure to scrape the bottom of a barrel, we need failure to slap us back to reality, to remind us to change gear, to change direction, to focus and discover the power within.

On that note, I say to you, the next time you fail on something, reach a dead end and find yourself between a rock and a hard place, remember failure, is being presented with an opportunity to brush up on our weakness and realize your full potential, there’s no second guesses, near misses just room for perfection. I’ve noticed how my failed moments drive me to stepping back, reassessing the scenario, centering- self, and tapping to my inner self because in all honesty, should I find myself running the same race, failure is not an option and my intention is to be better prepared with a different strategy in mind.Yes, my dear you, I’m human as a result I do fail, I just try not to beat myself up about it, learn from it and move on.

To you, however I say, from my heart to yours, always remember that facing failure, is but a learning process; the doorway to unmasking your hidden potential, and in the words of Steve Jobs, “Don’t be afraid of failure, failure doesn’t mean you will never achieve, it just means it takes a little longer.”

So in future how about dancing with failure and while you at it, basking in the sun; there’s serenity in that moment, my beautiful you.

Picture credit: Nestseller

THE IMPORTANCE OF WOMENTORING YOUNG GIRLS…

 

 

 

images (3)I have the pleasure of being a part of a mentoring group, for young girls in their final year of high school. The call for mentors came and I obliged without a moments hesitation, as I understood the importance of building and harnessing the intellectual ability of our young girls. Girls who will be our future movers and shakers, young girls whom I believe need to realize that there are ample opportunities and the path to greatness is sprinkled with possibilities.

Back in my high school era I constantly went back and forth trying to figure out my career path and the expression ‘find the job you love and you will never work a day in your life,’ rarely existed. The concept of getting a career was merely to get a job that paid well, one that at least can be tolerated enough so that I can get through the 9 to 5, and one that will bring forth a sense of status and pride for my parents. Back then my options were limited and I had no idea, there were careers such as robotics, architecture or astronomy. I don’t remember being told I was smart, that I will amount to greatness or that should I fail, I should dust myself and try again cause quitting was not an option. I had to fend for myself, and I had to figure it out irrespective of the number of times I hopped from one career to the other.

I took a young girl under my wing as I understood the importance of having an individual who’s willing and destined in igniting that inner fire. What I had growing up was a guidance teacher, I couldn’t really share my challenges with, as I felt uncomfortable opening up to her and secondly I had to share her with the rest of the school. My parents didn’t see the corridors of varsity hence they were hardly the type of individuals who would share in my despondency, and how could they, when they were overwhelmed with commitments. I had to figure it out all on my own, all my dad knew was that he was paying a heck of a lot of money, for my school fees and that I should stop the whining and get my act together.

However what I picked up from some of the girls yesterday was rarely a contrast to the girl I was many years ago; they have no idea what career direction they intend to take, some are considering a gap year due to the career indecisiveness, a varsity qualification is taken lightly or sadly due to lack of varsity financing they are forced to get a job and save up for classes. From this I deduced that we may be in a different era but the challenges appear one and the same.

Tackling the pitfalls is all about mutual engagements with the girls, that bursaries and scholarships are available should one be faced with financial constraints and gap years should be considered pensively, and the importance of a varsity qualification can rarely be stressed enough. We constantly need to build our young girls, remind them of their sense of resolve, remind them of how smart they are, and how their success, stems from them being a better version of themselves.   Like Oprah Winfrey once said “If you are surrounded by beautiful things and wonderful teachers who inspire you, that beauty, brings out the beauty in you.” and a teacher is hardly the conservative Ms standing by the chalkboard, the teacher is you or I who have grappled with challenges in our path to success.

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Hence by womentoring we build a society where girls grow up to be self-dependent, self-reliant and self-sustaining. In so doing we groom our young girls to be strong women who can hold their own with honesty, integrity and grace. Young woman who can stand up for themselves in our sexist and misogynistic society.

To my young girls, my butterflies, my roses in the universe, I salute you all and to you I say; you should always remember you are loved, you are smart and you are beautiful.  In the words of Robin Sharma, “take the stones people throw at you and use them to build a monument.”

 

IGNITING THE PURPOSE WITHIN….

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A friend quite recently stated, “I believe life is what you make of it, I do want to make the best, I just often have no clue how.”

One moment in time we each find ourselves contemplating one question, what is my purpose? It’s that moment where it feels like you at a dead end and you can’t figure out which path to take cause in all essence, we questioning our true identity. Purpose is that fire that burns our ambition to life, that flicker of hope that flames our destiny, however how many of us have lost the glimmer of hope guiding our purpose. Cause most often when we get to a certain age and all is not going according to plan where does one go searching for that purpose, the compass to our forever after. For others it’s all cut in stone however for the unfortunate it means doses of depressive episodes, countless mantras and yoga.

I’ve recently been popcorn binging on the movie Dr Strange and it had me questioning, my place in the universe, in short my purpose. It’s like this, I grew up wishing I could get to my twenties the phase of legality, freedom and maturity but having passed that phase and the thirties came knocking with a varsity qualification and keys to my pad, I realized the days were every bit monotonous, it was the same routine every day, wake up go to work, back home, eat, sleep for seven days a week, 365 days in a year.

Surely there’s more to life than this, I watched the movies the man who knew infinity and Gifted and believe you me, had I known I’m a genius, I would have been milking it for what it’s worth. Then I tried singing in the shower and the pigeons ducked for cover, finally coming to terms with the realization that when they were dishing out the creativity, talent and genius gene in Genesis, I was definitely last in line.

Then I picked up ‘The monk who sold his Ferrari’ by Robin Sharma and I was gobsmacked to my senses, from then on I’ve learned that we all have a purpose and my belief is that we all matter, that every one of us has a part to play in the universe. That one can’t do without the other hence we constantly striving to find our place in the book of life, others pace the Buddhist mountains for sanity or we lose our self in life help books and if it all fails we drown in the pool of depression; that’s purpose, the grey line between sane and insanity; the yin and the yang in our spiritual identity

what maturity has schooled me is that purpose is that compass within that guides you to being the greater you, you most probably can be. It reignites that determination and tenacity within the path to success. We sometimes forget that the universe is not only about the Graham Bell, Einstein and Ramanujan, every one of us matter in the cycle of life. Whether your place is amongst the stars like Stephen Hawking or bones amongst the sand like homo Naledi; we all matter.

So dear you, the next time you doubting yourself and trying to figure your place in this planet, remember even roses have thorns and the path to greatness is not always clearly defined, cause if it was, wouldn’t life be so much easier and in a way boring. The beauty is in the journey, if climbing Mount Everest was so easy would the outcome be as electrifying but then again some say luck at times has something to do with it, but didn’t a wise man say luck is opportunity meeting preparation, in short it was destined to happen dear you, because you are greatness personified.

(Purpose=ambition + determination) with that equation the world is your oyster darling you.

Like Albert Einstein once said “The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything.”

 

Picture credit: Rishikajain.com

GREAT EXPECTATIONS- FINDING LOVE ONLINE

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I remember a friend saying catching fish is a tedious, exhausting process that requires a bucket load of patients as she perked her well rounded pearly bits, having read the old man and sea by Ernest Hemingway I tend to agree. This thought came to mind as I decided to lay off Ms Conservative and bring out the maverick within by getting rid of the list and testing the waters by being open and receptive to cupid’s law of attraction. With that I began tapping away on the keyboard browsing through dating sites, within minutes my profile was uploaded, with a few compromises cause when you go fishing you do need good bait, a girl can’t be bringing home a barracuda, now can she?

Since this exercise was being done out of curiosity, I didn’t mind the waiting, as I had no idea what to expect. The partner proposals began popping up and my inbox was getting busy though I vowed to be lenient in the partner search I found myself doing the ticks and crosses. Firstly if the profile picture failed in tantalizing my tingly bits it went under the burner, the job title and grammar didn’t go unnoticed either. For a girl looking for love, I surely am picky but darling, I can’t be sitting there talking about the weather when he’s clueless about current affairs.

After sifting through the inbox I came across a potential, I call him half and half as he’s a half breed, a looker, judging from his profile picture. We began chatting, I was his Nubian princess and he; charming and mature. However our fairy-tale was short lived as I dropped him like a hot brick after he sent through his latest picture, and the first thing that came to mind was a glimpse of Dennis Rodman doing a slam dunk. Truth be told, I was baffled at how he went from Michael Ealy to Dennis Rodman in sixty seconds.  Later, when he dropped an invite for coffee, I took a rain check and I doubt he and I will be an ‘US’ or ‘We’ in this or next lifetime.

It rang true the notion that profile pictures at times rarely provide a true reflection of the man in the mirror, that we put on masks to paint a picture of wishful thinking as a gesture of acceptance and acknowledgement, to fit the ideal expectation. Truthfully, it purely boils down to branding, the imagery you portray to the audience should be representative of your character. If your intention is to attract a cultured, ambitious, intelligent lady your image should do well in attracting such a lady, they do say a picture tells a thousand words.

Branding is as important individually as is in business, as a result a dating profile should do well in attracting the ideal partner and for that to happen it should filter through to presentation. If your profile picture had a picture of couth suited up well groomed James Bond dear future bae I really do expect to be sitting across a mellowed version of James Bond and not John Malkovich being all feisty in the movie RED. Please, don’t get me wrong it has nothing to do with titles and the car you drive but just living up to the persona you have painted, it’s just old school wooing through a futuristic vortex. Surely you can’t go to war empty handed, you need to dress the part or else how are you to be taken seriously.

Online dating is proving quite an experience and my profile is still active, I’m very much curious as to what the cat will drag in, however if I do remember clearly, curiosity did kill the cat.

picture credit: psyblog

 

RAINDROPS……

I humbly apologise, I’ve been absent. Writer’s block? That and life’s thorny potholes. Writing is therapeutic but when emotionally drained one fails to string sentences together, choosing rather to over dose on self-help books with endless moments of sighing and breathing techniques. I needed some time out, that pause moment, some stillness. Until George Bernard Shaw slapped me back to reality by reminding me that “life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.” That I decided to dry the mascara, get back on the horse and pat that afro.  
Since my last posts life has been somewhat interesting and I intend to share. Well no marriage proposals but rather some teary eyes with bucket loads of giggles. 
It’s great being back but remember if you ever find yourself down and out, a bit overwhelmed, instead of popping the pills, binging on junk food and getting intoxicated, just remind yourself that the sun always shines after a storm and where will the stars be without darkness. You are loved, and you say you not a diamond well diamonds are sifted through layers of sand, you say you not gold, well darling ask a miner how bad it is down there. You see you perfect the way you are, you just need some polishing once in a while to bring out that effervescent sparkle. 

SPRINKLES OF REALITY..

My apartment is what I call my island of solitude. It’s comfortable, with a certain air of tranquillity, an aura of silence wrapped in a blanket of peaceful symmetry. It’s a space I loose myself, a place where I transcend to my inner self. Here, within these walls, I find balance, there’s harmony; I’m complete. It’s my sanctuary, well, until recently. 
My home has been invaded by an army of bird mites, believe you me I had no idea these parasites existed. After surfing on google they are usually found where birds and their nests are located, and in the few weeks after birds leave their nests they infest the home in search of blood meal from humans and the bites from bird mites cause severe irritation.
Growing up it was the usual cockroaches and rats, where grocery shopping will entail the occasional can of Doom in the basket and rats did the occasional scram around the house, as I did the jumper, with mommy doing the run around with a broom trying to chase it out. 
However fast forward years later and I’m face to face with the goliath of parasites. I had no idea such things existed and lord behold I can’t stand them. Each time my weave brushes my skin I’m reminded of the horror awaiting me at home. Lounging on my beloved couch means a game of footsy footsy with creepy legged crawlies. I don’t know what’s worse cockroaches, rats or a tsunami of bird mites. 
I’ve recently spring cleaned every corner of my apartment but to no avail. They just literally parade around the space like the own every inch of it. I can’t stand walking through the front door, cause all that awaits me on the other side are these little buggers waiting to wrap me to a parasitic embrace. 
As a single lady on this solo path I confided on Google, and she graciously pointed me on the DIY path, as a result with my butt and twins out, drill in hand, tapping in sync to the notes of confidence, I was ready to do the Rambo on this mites. Okay well you got me, I kinda called the handy guy to get rid of the bird nest and drill every hole within the vicinity of the nests shut, and when that was done, I spring cleaned every corner of the pad. 
Alas two weeks later these buggers are still here, crawling up my skin, leaving me sleep deprived, and waking me up to a round of scratching and cussing.
I’m in captivity, held hostage in my own home and google is failing me terribly. I’ve run out of options and though apparently it takes three months to get rid of the infestation after getting rid of the bird nest and the spring cleaning, my patience is wearing thin.
Truth be told I can’t stand any of them and I want this horror story to end. I want my apartment back, no wait I demand my apartment back. I played the kind host by allowing birds to nest on my geyser compartment and I’m thanked with bucket loads of mites. Talk about my generosity being trampled on.
Truth be told that In all honesty I have learnt a lesson, I’ve grown to understand that life throws punches, and mites can throw even bigger punches. As I sit here soothing my itches I realise sometimes as humans we undermine the strength in Gods little creatures, and every itch I scratch or each one of them crawling my skin they remind me that even they have a place in this circle of life. 
That we all trying to merely survive, and find our place in the universe. I took away their hosts and they lashed out by invading my home and as I scratch my way through sleepless nights, endless spring cleaning and the endless itches it reminds me that we all have a place in this planet and weather you’re a mite or human your part in this puzzle is as significant.