Be Fully, Magnificently, You!

Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

About 20 years ago when I was in high school (I know I don’t look my age 😊), you had 2 groups of girls. The cool girls and the girls with nappy hair and crooked teeth. I fell in the latter group. My father was also not the headmaster or the church pastor. I slid lower down the ranks.

I don’t know who decided on these ranks, but there they were. I had to fall in line. Like many other teenagers who don’t know their place and trying their best to fit in, but only succeeded in standing out, like a sore finger.

‘I hope that my presence on your screen, and my face in magazines may lead you young girls on a beautiful journey, that you will feel validation of your external beauty, but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.’ — Lupita Nyong’o

I eventually finished high school and went to college in Cape Town. I stayed with my aunt and worked nights and weekends at KFC in Claremont, the one in Main Road. I was lucky enough to find a decent job straight out of college. I could get my own place that I shared with my brother and later my sister came to join us.

Throughout this time I was grouped in a certain class.

We were the Coloureds from Mitchells Plain who were all gangsters. I didn’t need to open my mouth. It didn’t matter that I was not from Mitchells Plain. I fit the profile before I could open my mouth. Talk about judging a book by its cover.

‘I raise up my voice — not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.’ — Malala Yousafzai

Photo by Leon Ell’ on Unsplash

With that racial bias and stereotypes came the realisation that there was a glass ceiling. You could only be the PA, don’t ever think you will make it to the corner office. And when one of the girls got knocked up and the baby daddy is gone before the baby is born, it just reinforced our positions.

That maybe you should hold on to the merchandiser’s job at Edgars. At least you’re not the cleaner. And so we never get rid of the stereotype. Even if you can now afford to book a table for 10 at the Codfather in Camps Bay, when you walk in they size you up and down and think, Oh Lord who let them in?

‘It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.’ Madeleine Albright

My message to you, don’t let it take you 20 years. Twenty years to understand that you have just as much right as any other person to be here, breath in the free air and own your space.

You don’t have to be a feminist and burn your bra and demand equal rights. You can do so silently, with fierce determination, to firstly quieten the voices in your own head. Once you have conquered those, the rest is easy.

‘I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.’-Audre Lorde

It starts with you believing that you belong here.

You have a purpose. Others look up to you, some you don’t even know. You carry their hopes in your heart because you have the voice they don’t have.

‘And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.’ — Anais Nin

Be fully, magnificently, you!

We’ll Die Of Hunger First!

Unlock the South African economy now!

As we enter lockdown day 43 in South Africa, with over 8000 positive cases and a death toll of 161, the situation is bleak, to say the least. The economy was abruptly brought to a halt on Friday 27 March when the lockdown started. Everyone had to stay at home, you could only go out to buy food or go to the doctor. Only essential services were operational.

Everyone else had to stay at home and work from home. Restaurants, hairdressers, beauty parlours and gyms were closed. There was a ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes and a curfew in the evenings. Sounds more like we are going to war than fighting a virus.

Exactly 6 weeks later and thousands of people have lost their jobs. Some had to take salary cuts of more than 50%. Others can’t afford to pay their rent, pay their car instalments, or buy food. Someone I know had to be content with 10% of their normal salary. I mean, what do you do with 10%?

The companies also don’t have a choice, no-one is buying, no-one is paying, pending orders are cancelled. With a huge cashflow crisis gushing expenses with no income, it’s not a pretty sight.

How does your life change so radically in 6 weeks?

A whole generation’s sweat and toil down the drain. No-one has an emergency fund. No-one. I guess we thought the rainy day would never come.

All the schools are closed. Children are at home. Parents are at home. Nerves are in tatters. Children are going hungry. Parents watch in despair. If they go outside without a permit they can get locked up.

Still trying to find the owner

We know that the lockdown was never going to stop the virus, it was only going to slow down the spread so that hospitals can prepare and get ready when the virus hits at its peak. But in the meantime, people are starving.

“First they came for the cigarettes, and I did not speak up because I am not a smoker. Then they came for the alcohol, and I did not speak up because I’m not a drinker. They later came for my cooked chicken, and I did not speak up because I’m a dumbass who can’t recognise danger.” — Quentin Quarantino Ferreira

The government has vouched to plough back billions into the economy to ease the hardships of ordinary people, but the sheer magnitude of the administration is leaving many people wanting and waiting. The grants are not coming today or tomorrow.

In the meantime, people are going hungry, by the millions. Another initiative was to distribute food parcels. Well done for that, but it’s only feeding the family today, what about tomorrow?

By the time we wake up, starvation would have killed many more people than the virus ever could. We need to lift the lockdown and let people get back to work, those lucky ones who still have a job.

Masks are now mandatory. Yes, let’s wash our hands and wear masks, but please can we just get back to work!