Thabizolo

I have been thinking a lot about father’s lately. Their role in society and, the impact they have in the lives of their daughters and sons.

I had one perception of a distant father, the father who was completely absent, ran away and never came back. I forget about the “present” father the one who lives in the house but is never there.

We all know about the absent black father. The uncle who reaches out to his kids a 100 years later after self reflection (because the glory days are over). The brother who had children in every city and all the women in the family protect his honour because all those women knew what kind of man he is. The grandfather who dies and leaves the family to deal with “his my father” stories.

I find myself wondering though, if we have reached a new era, 42 (forty two) years later men are still running away from their responsibility.

People always assume that feminists are angry because we have “daddy issues”. My response is always ” I was fathered very well”. My mother is very indifferent about female grooming definitely not her portion.

My father on the other hand made it his mission to bath me every morning, brush my hair and tie it into two very neat braids, polish my school shoes and taught me how to apply nail polish on Saturday afternoons. I was fathered perfectly, my knight in shining armor. I think it’s because of this that I fear the possibility that this is not the norm.

Contrary to expectations my article is meant to celebrate fathers. The men who were not taught how to love, the men who knew their fathers were philandering and chose to overcome their “I am like my daddy insecurity” to honour their families.

This article is for all the black men who withstand all the stereotypes and break all the barriers (because there are many). Your commitment to your family is a revolution for all black people. Say what you will about nuclear families ,the essence is that black babies thrive from the perception of healthy adult relationships.

But!

Accountability is the word of the day.

Are you friends with a trash man whom has “ghosted” his child? And looked the other way because that’s just the way he is. This why we are here dear black man, your actions are only valid if they benefit you. Have you dealt with yourself? Issues with your manhood? Your father? The pressure society has enforced on you?!

We have progressed,moved and our revolution is seeing a different kind of fatherhood brewing. I sincerely hope we are raising sons and daughters with the same expectations. Showing our children love through affirmation and actions.

Do you question your fatherhood? Your actions and reactions and how your children,step children ,nieces and nephews perceive you? Are you breaking barriers to insure that the next generation of black men and women survive in this society that is not built for them without self harming? These are the questions my brother. Only you can answer them.

Nombulelo

About two years ago I read an article written by Masechaba Ndlovu about her journey towards building a true and genuine relationship with her mother by simply recognizing that she too is human.

It’s quite a frightening reality to deal with, coming to the realization that this human who had given you life and defies all conventions has her own human experiences. She has a life, her own agency , thoughts , ideas and dreams that do not revolve around you. She makes mistakes, grapples with fear and insecurity. Most importantly in-spite and because of you , constantly works towards the hope of reaching her truest potential.

As my mother celebrates her 57th birthday today. I can’t help but wonder who she could have been had she decided not to have children. My mother had me when she was 32 years old, 6 years after she had my brother. I still have memories of my mother juggling University, motherhood , work and being a partner.

Her dreams to be a lawyer ,travel the world and drive her dream car were unfulfilled all of these sacrificed to be my amazing mother. Don’t get me wrong, my mother absolutely adores us. Most days she and I are thee best of friends. The rest of time she spends remaining me that she is my parent before she is my friend and that is her biggest role in my life.

Alas I can’t help but imagine her life ,how this intelligent, strong and zealous woman whom I have taken after could have been more. Moved to another country and studied further, met an exotic man on a beach in Havana and spent her summers listening to jazz under the sunset in Brooklyn.

I know the sacrifices she made for me. For my education , my livelihood, affording me experiences she could only dream of. The version and dreams she has for the kind of woman she hopes I will be. I have seen her eyes came alive at the thought of her children, beaming with pride and appreciation that all her sacrifices are amounting to something.

I will never take those for granted, but the biggest sacrifice I believe is the forgone potential of who she could have been had to chosen any different. Who I am, my thoughts , my dreams ,my ambitions are my reality all because of who my mother is- who she has raised me to be. My mother could have been brilliant.

So today Nombulelo wam’ I am grateful that you sacrificed more than I can ever imagine for me to be who I am. I will forever honour your role in my life and remember that you live vicariously through me. I will be brilliant , I will live out all your dreams and more. The fire of your potential will run throughout my life and in my life.

If one day I decide to have a daughter I hope the fire I see in your eyes runs like a cancer through her and all generations of women after us , being exactly who they were meant to be and nothing less.

Bestowing honour unto you , I have learnt is a form of self-care.

Ndiyabulela Mama! Happy birthday!

The Gemini: I can do both

” If sexuality is one dimension of our ablity to live passionately, then in cutting off our sexual feelings we diminish our overall power to feel , know and value deeply” – Judith Plaskow

The century of the women has come and we are witnessing more and more women getting educated and breaking barriers in their working environments it is no longer a surprise (well hopefully) to see a young successful unmarried woman. However this can come with a few misconceptions such as that successful women in business,politics, engineering  Continue reading

Fathers be good to your daughters.

My relationship with my father.

Nyeleti Ubisi (22)

“A relationship with your father changes your perspective on men and how you experience them” – Nyeleti

The story of a broken family is all to familiar to South African homes, television and media give us the perception that black households are filled with detached ,emotionless fathers who may provide for their children but have no personal relationship with them. This may be true for some households however Nyeleti reminds us that black fathers can and are well rounded parents who love, nurture and provide for their children.

Nyeleti expresses that “it is very important for every girl to experience what I call a walk with their father because it changes the way you perceive men and how you feel about men as a whole and it changes your routine how you handle your relationships with your male friends, male colleagues and your partner” and I fully agree as many times how we react to male influences around us is directly linked to the relationships (or lack thereof) we have with our fathers.

Nyeleti believes that her relationship with her father liberated her, the older she grows the more she appreciates he’s wisdom in her life ” as soon as he saw me as mature we were able to talk about certain things that I honestly never thought I could talk to my dad about such as my relationship with my partner because they are both men especially when there are things I don’t understand about my partner”

The depth of a women’s relationship with her father is always seen in her partner, because women always look for certain qualities her father has in a man I suppose the question here would be what qualities do you look for in a man when you have no reference. Nyeleti agrees that her father and her partner have similar qualities ” My dad can be very closed off with he’s emotions because of how he grew up similar to my partner who is also very closed off because he never had a personal relationship with he’s father another thing I learned from my father about men is that we need to accept them as they are because we as women always want to change something about men ” she continues to explain that even though her father is closed off with he’s feeling whenever he does open up they are able to speak and get more in touch with he’s feelings she can see a vulnerable side of him without me thinking that he is weak.

“My father taught me to have pick my friends wisely ,and to respect people no matter how much money I could have repsect goes a very long way .My siblings and I are very blessed but he also taught us to work for everything that we want he always reminds us that he’s money is he’s money and we therefore need to work for ourselves so we can understand the value of money”

Nyeleti expresses “I think its important for girls to have a relationship with their fathers because it helps you distinguish between a healthy relationship and a toxic one , once you receive that love from your father you become content in what love is” . Even though her parents are divorced she explains that her father still holds the highest level of respect for her mother and watching him treat her mother with love and humility reminds her that men have love and we should not be discouraged from believing it.

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May love,peace and grace be upon you.

I am Engineer!

The career series

Refiloe Sekabate (22)

“I was told not to have a child in the next 5 years because it will be difficult for me to attain my qualification and meet ECSA requirements as my progress will be delayed. But I wouldn’t do anything else” -Refiloe

The world today tells young women that we have equal opportunities and we can aspire to achieve anything we set our minds to. This may be true however the struggles of women in successful careers should not go unnoticed, even with the notion that we can achieve anything beyond our ‘limits’ we often receive misguided information about career choices when we are young which ultimately feed into the rest of our lives.

Refiloe believes that it is important to first establish what a career is to you as an individual , ” the definition of a career to me is an individual journey through life related to your work not specifically related to a particular job or position however it’s the whole progression of a person going through school, and university. ” She is clearly able to articulate this as she is currently in her journey as a university student ,studying towards a metallurgical engineering degree this career choice was not a spontaneous decision she explains that she choose this career field by matching her interests ,her goals ,and her abilities moreover making a conscious decision everyday to put in the work.

“I chose engineering because I love problem solving, I am very systematic and I love logical processing, the character and what is needed in engineering resonates with who I am” , this is a very important aspect to note as people often find themselves in situations where they are stuck in careers they find no fulfillment in simply because of financial needs . She further explains that engineering is a very broad career, there are engineers who work in banks, admin and government sectors because the skills attained in engineering can be used in any work space.

This amazing career field does not go without it’s challenges , Refiloe expresses that women in the engineering field still experience predujice on the basis of their physical stature because men have physical capabilities to perform certain tasks that women cannot. “We still get nasty comments from men and when you get to a workshop looking for employment  you still get asked why are you not doing arts, accounting or humanities” she further explains that the protective gear is unsuitable and uncomfortable for women and the environment is not welcoming for women ” I worked in a plant where there was actually one bathroom for women. The protective gear is uncomfortable when your on your periods and you can’t wear it when your pregnant ,the hard hats don’t accommodate women’s hair ,the protective shoes are not suitable for women because the sizes are big and I know of one division where the women had to fight for basic sanitary towel bins to be placed in their bathrooms “

These women work in an environment that is stagnant, it shows growth on the surface but in essence the industry is still largely dominated by men. It is evident that as much as women are succeeding in male dominated sectors it is with great sacrifice and uncomfortable silence. We as women need to move into uncomfortable spaces with passion to show that we will no longer be accommodated for working just as hard and even harder for the same jobs and qualifications. Young women like Refiloe remind us that with hard work it is possible to reach your highest potential in a patriarchal environment, and the more we share our stories we advocate for other women who are voiceless.

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May love,peace and grace be upon you.

Confessions of a feminist Christian

I have always had personal struggles with religion, especially because I was raised by an independent women with strong opinions . When I eventually decided to explore a personal relationship with my God I soon realized that I would always have more questions than answers and that was ok. Growing into a feminist didn’t help my journey in anyway, I was constantly hit with words such as ‘submit’ and ‘obedience’, which in my mind meant that I had no freedom to exercise any form of mental capacity that will enable me to think for myself. I had to make a conscience decision to allow someone else to dictate my decisions, thoughts and actions.

However I have always thought very highly of the church, especially with regards to empowering women and openly advocating for issues that affect women, to my disappointment I have noticed that women in the church are still regarded as secondary to men whose needs and purposes seem to come before ours. The church still gives women labels of fifthly and unworthy  of marriage when they are not a particular standard of Christian.

Especially with regards to sexual purity where the priority to remain a virgin is always emphasized to the women, and when women choose not too they always receive the worst of the persecution. I always wonder ,do these women have sex with themselves? Does marriage under Christian law not bind both male and female to keep their virtue until the day of the marriage, so why does it seem as if we forcefully seduce these men into our beds with our magic wands forcing them to act against their own free will? the very institution that is supposed to be at the forefront of protecting women, continues (as it always has) to demoralize and undermine women in the church.

It baffles me to understand how the church expects to draw people towards this magnificent God, if instead of a message of love they teach a message of shame and fear. Churches are detached from women’s everyday realities; I can only imagine the thoughts of an HIV+ woman who could possibly sit through a sermon seeking solace and acceptance only to find that the church is no different from the world. Realistically the church and many other institutions are still run by men who not only fear the women’s potential but realize that they too do not understand the fundamentals of what they preach or maybe I don’t fully understand Christianity in totality . I do however believe faith is a beautiful thing, to have a relationship with someone you’ve never met and never feel alone, is a powerful phenomenon which is beyond anything we can comprehend and we cannot allow any man to keep us from experiencing that.

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May love,peace and grace be upon you.

The rainbow nation fallacy?

The past few months have been rather exciting for South Africa from the Rhodes must fall movement to the Luister video that was recently posted on YouTube and the conversations on gender equality during women’s month , finally we as the ‘born free’ youth of South Africa get to be at the forefront of transformation.

Unlike the youth of 1976 we have always been uncertain about what our role in this country is as well as what are the struggles and challenges that we need to fight.  Recently it has become very evident that we are in a space of shaping South Africa in service of our vision and unapologetically so.

However this era of revelation awakens anger and uncertainty about whether the rainbow nation dream still lives. In my opinion yes it does and no it doesn’t we need to stop being apologetic about being proud of our own and creating movements that elevate our own people. If there’s anything I admire about the Afrikaners is that they are very unapologetic about the language they choose to get educated in, how and where they choose to raise their children and sadly even about wealth they have benefited at the expense of our humanity.

So why are we afraid to be black and proud? Is it wrong that I want to fight for my people to be taught in a language they understand or even better in their own language, or the possibly of building private schools and luxury neighborhoods where my children can live and learn from their own?

This in no way excludes friendship, and just means that I no longer feel the need to explain why colonial statues need to be abolished and why it is important to me that we reclaim economic capacity ,this of course is applicable to all races and cultures in South Africa. We need to reclaim our dignity , stand for what we believe in,because if we don’t and we choose to ignore the calls from the future our children may never know what it truly means to be free.

So I encourage you to speak your mind, let your voice be heard ,stand up for your own. Love remains in our hearts , however we can no longer pretend like it’s enough.

May grace,love and peace be upon you.

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