Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

From the equatorial forest.

In my imagination,

We make a beautiful duet.

His dark chocolate

with my caramel entwined.

Heady and sensual,

Utterly irresistible.


Like shot of espresso 

The colour of his eyes. 

One look, is all it took. 

The cup of my heart is brimming.

My head is swimming,

Like after an Irish coffee.

A shot of whiskey,

A dash of cream,

Stirred with a chocolate spoon.

The worst addiction

Demands gratification.

The food of the gods and

The Devil’s own elixir.

Secretly brewed in the dead of night

Now incarnate.

The ultimate black magic,

No cure from a medic.

Desperately sinking,

A maelstrom of emotions.

The worst part of it,

We’ve never even spoken.


When Hope Whispers: My Personal Perspective


I am reading this compelling autobiography by Zoleka Mandela. It is easy to read, written in a frank, conversational style. However, that serves to make the story even more riveting. Part 1 takes you through a brutally honest and raw account of abuse and addiction, the death of her daughter and her recovery. Part 2 takes you through the journey of her cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery. In her words, we all have our crosses to bear. Hers, in my opinion is a heavy one. My Mum always says that if our troubles were crosses, put in a pile and we were asked to choose, we would go for the smallest one, only to find that it was the one we had from the beginning. Fortunately, God gives the greatest battles to his bravest warriors.

I write this not as a professional critic, but as a woman on a journey to healing and finding her life purpose. If I sound a little star-struck, you’ll forgive me. I believe that this is one of those stories that will change the world. As I engage with her story, with its various themes, I get fresh insight into the goodness and greatness of God, who sometimes allows us to suffer the consequences of our actions but is ultimately a loving God who longs to redeem, heal and help us to live a wholesome life of abundance.
When Grandma’s a Heroine and Grandpa’s an Icon

Nelson and Winnie Mandela on their wedding day. Picture courtesy of Pinterest

In part one, Zoleka takes us back to her childhood. As the child of members of Umkhonto WeSizwe, the military wing of the ANC, the struggle against apartheid was up close and personal. Unfortunately, it came with an abnormal family life: no parents to maintain a home with a normal routine of being taken to school, bath time, television, homework, supper and bedtime stories. Her mother, Zindziswa, grandmother, Winne and her aunt Zenani did the best that they could under the circumstances. South Africa before 1994 was the one of the hardest places to live as a black person and especially for a woman and an activist. 

Many people criticize Winnie: for being militant; for her role in the murder of Stompie Seipei; for her affair with Dali Mpofu. She was no saint, but through the eyes of her grand-daughter you see the other side of her, staunchly loyal, loving and supportive. This is a side that the public never knew, seeing only a battle-hardened veteran, who in the opinion of many had no business being front and centre of the anti-apartheid struggle.

Why am I dwelling on Winnie’s story? Well, that is where Zoleka’s story really begins. Her childhood would have been radically different, had Winnie chosen a less radical path of activism and had the opportunity to raise her children. Zenani and Zindzi had to read the papers whenever schools closed, to check whether their mother had been arrested, because she wasn’t at home when they came back for school holidays. Imagine not seeing your mother for the whole school term, only to find that she is not at home during the holiday, while your father is serving a lifelong prison sentence. I visited the women’s section of the prison complex at Constitution Hill this year, where Winnie Mandela was held for some time. I had chills walking in that place. I can only imagine the pain and anguish, especially of solitary confinement. It must have been hell for Winnie, constantly banned, jailed, unable to raise her children.

As a great admirer of Winnie, I observed all this at a young age. I am an activist and an outspoken person, who hates injustice. However when things took a turn for the worse in the country of my birth, I had a choice, join the opposition as an activist and disappear or die in jail or go into exile to raise my children. After following Winnie and her daughters’ story, I chose the latter. The welfare and wellbeing of my children took priority. Some would say it was a cowardly choice, but seeing how Zindzi, Zenani and now Zoleka struggled with the absence of their mother, I realise that it was the right thing to do. As a mother, I do not regret that choice.
Not Easily Broken

Zindziswa Mandela, Zoleka’s mother. Picture courtesy of Pinterest. 

Zindzi was not equipped for motherhood. With the pressure to live up to the family legacy of involvement in the struggle, her military training and her bigger priority of liberation, she couldn’t give Zoleka the motherly love that she needed at a young age. Zindzi herself did not have normal childhood, so she could hardly be expected to give her daughter something she herself did not have. The absence and subsequent marriage of Zoleka’s father Oupa Seakamela didn’t help matters. To quote Tyler Perry, both Zindzi and Oupa were broken children raising a broken child. Like Winnie, they deserve empathy in my opinion, not judgment.

Sisters, Zindzi and Zenani Mandela with US President Barack Obama. Picture courtesy of Pinterest

Zoleka’s childhood seems like a generally happy one, with her aunt and a large extended family. As ANC royalty, particularly after independence, she seemed to live a charmed life, feted by and photographed with celebrities. However it was marred by the physical and sexual abuse. Her descent into addiction was a natural one. All addictions are deeply rooted in trauma, emotional and physical pain. You cannot recover from addiction, without dealing with the pain. It is hard work, but must be done in order to heal. 

Zoleka has an addictive personality. Science has proven that addicts’ brains are wired differently. Some people can have a drink today and not have another drink for weeks. Others take a sip of alcohol and after that need a drink every day just to feel normal. For this reason, fruit juice is served at Holy Communion in the Methodist church, because John Wesley preached in pubs and the church recognises that a sip of altar wine would trigger the addiction again. When you recover from addiction, you are not cured, you have to make the decision daily to stay clean, and not indulge. When Zoleka returned from rehab, she left her mother’s house because they drank alcohol daily and they were not willing to change their lifestyle to support her. This incident, for me, reinforces the importance of supporting a loved one who is in recovery from addiction.

However turbulent Zindzi and Zoleka’s relationship was, the bond of motherhood is not easily broken.  Zoleka met and fell in love with a series of men in her teens with who. She would smoke, drink and take drugs. Sex was her other addiction. She went to Botswana to meet up with her boyfriend and she relates how her mother had her arrested at the border on her way back. In a recent Instagram post, she acknowledges how her mother constantly tried to intervene and protect her, despite Zoleka’s being difficult and abusive towards her. The important lesson here is that love triumphs over all. At some point, both mother and daughter have managed to find each other again. In my experience, you only really understand your mother when you have your own children. You may not agree with her choices or actions, but you can empathise.
Why we need to fight sexual abuse of women and children. 

Zoleka’s promiscuity was rooted in her experiencing sexual abuse at an early age. Most children who are sexually abused lack self worth and have low self-esteem. They become promiscuous to feel loved, in whatever twisted manner, to numb the pain of the abuse. Oprah’s story is a classic example. This is why we need to fight the scourge of sexual abuse and rape of women and children. The effects on a person’s mind, body and spirit lead to numerous problems with ripple effects in their families and the society at large. With the movement now focusing on men, it is important to reach boys when they are still young and teach them values of strength, courage, respect and protection of the vulnerable. As Frederick Douglas put it, it is easier to build strong boys than to repair broken men. Broken and hurting men hurt women, children and other men, and the effects of violence and abuse continue. Had Zoleka not encountered such men in her family, she would most likely have a different story to tell.

Our Weapons Are Not Carnal

Zoleka writes about hallucinating while she was high, seeing men in dark coats in the house and being instructed to burn herself to death. Fortunately her brother saw the smoke coming from her room and rescued her. Her eyes rolled back in her head, she was unresponsive, signs of being demonized. Psychoactive drugs open a door in your consciousness to the spiritual world, enabling demons to harass and possess you. These demons escalate addictions and promote risky deviant and criminal behavior that harm the self and others. Only the power of the Holy Spirit and the name of Jesus Christ can set you free.

I once had the opportunity of participating in a deliverance session at church. Ours is mainstream, bible-believing Protestant church. No tricks, no stunts or theatrics. We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring healing and wholeness to broken people. A lady  who was demon-possessed was brought to the church. She was afraid for her young daughter and wanted to be released from the demonic strongholds in order to protect her. I lost count of the number of demons that were cast out out of her that night. Her story was one of incest, bearing two children as a result, alcoholism, drugs, promiscuity, a stint in jail, attempted murder in jail. She felt guilty about giving up her children, had low self-esteem and had drifted through life in relationships with men that were as broken as she was. Clearly the sexual abuse was the root, her problems snowballed from there as she drank, took drugs and indulged in more sex to dull the pain. The criminal behavior was how she supported her drug and drinking habits. When we started praying, the demons in her resisted. She spoke in strange different voices, men’s voices. She wanted to run off into the night. It took seven of us women to hold her down, while the deliverance session conducted by the elders of the church in the presence of our resident minister. The session lasted for almost two hours. We prayed, sang, recited bible verses and cast out the demons in the name of Jesus.  Eventually she was free.  The crazed look was gone. She spoke in her own voice. She walked out of that church a different person from when she came in.

We have to fight the scourge of drugs and keep them from stealing the hope, the future and the lives of our youth.

Zoleka Mandela and Thierry Bashala. Pictures courtesy of Instagram and Pinterest.

I have to commend Zoleka’s current partner, Thierry Bashala, a man of unusual courage and fortitude. Theirs is a relationship that breaks all the rules. Firstly he is three years younger than her. How many times do our families discourage a man from dating or marrying a woman who is the same age or older than him? How many men deliberately chase younger women to feel at an advantage, because they cannot handle a woman their own age? Secondly, he loves her and accepts her for who she is, despite her flawed upbringing, poor choices and colourful sexual history. Many men man expect to marry a virgin but insists on having sex with just about every woman they date. Guys it’s time to ditch the double-standard. 

It’s sad how many men used and abused Zoleka, leaving her in some cases, literally holding the baby?  In contrast Thierry is a praying man, a devoted husband, father and step-father and she is happier than ever. If you don’t believe me, check out her Instagram posts. This man has been there through the harrowing ordeal of cancer treatments. We are talking about sixteen sessions of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, saline implants that need draining, hair loss, pigmentation and weight gain. He drove her to the hospital, ran the foundation, cooked supper and looked after Zwelami through it all. That was first time. Then again when the cancer returned, a second time. Then there was the ‘just in case’ fertility treatments, because they wanted a child in future and there would be no guarantees after the cancer treatment. These required her to have hormone injections at home, all done by him. That is the kind of strength and perseverance that any woman would want from a man, Even those of us who are ‘liberated’.

Men complain that women don’t submit to them. A woman will submit to a man who is worthy. A man who provides for her, supports her dreams and makes her his highest priority. Why should a woman submit to a man who is not her hero and cannot step up when required to.  This is the kind of love story that should give anyone hope that no matter how bad you think things are; that no matter how dark and troubled your past is, there is a someone out there who will genuinely love you in spite of it. For men, that is a woman you’ll die for, for women, that is a man you would follow to the ends of the earth, barefoot, in your lingerie.

Zoleka’s story is a heroic one, of courage, optimism and triumph over adversity. Faith, hope and love, the greatest of all being love. God’s love for her, her love for her family, especially her children and above all self-love, because you cannot give others what you yourself don’t have. I recommend that you read the book, now in its fourth reprint. You can order a copy from Jacana Media or from http://www.zolekamandelafoundation.org.  I hope you find her story as inspiring as I have. 

Perfect Match

Smart girls make dumb choices. I’ve made a few of my own. Ladies hear this:

Your perfect match does not:

1. Shine on your shine. We know what that’s about. He has to have the spotlight ALL THE TIME. *eyes rolling*

2. Disrespect his mother, his sister or any female member of his family. He is courteous, even under provocation. He walks away rather than escalate a fight. 

3. Talk badly about you behind your back, to ANYONE, especially the OTHER WOMAN. And if you are the other woman, he is not your perfect match either. 

4. Disrespect you in front of the family. Especially HIS family. Nor does he embarrass you in front of other people, random strangers in particular.

5. Keep you waiting. You’re dressed up, dolled up, it’s 8pm, he’s a no show and he hasn’t called. NO, that is not the time to cry, change, then lie on the couch with a tub of ice-cream. You grab your purse, take an UBER ride and you hit the club, with or without him. Take a girlfriend if you can’t do it alone. If you meet him there, act like you don’t know him. He has already proven that he is not worthy of you. Keep it moving. 

6. Ditch you for his friends, see point 5 above. 

7. Push, shove, slap or kick you. In fact that should be point no. 1.

8. Start drooling over other women in your presence. However hot, he’s feeling about that girl in the hotpants, low cut blouse, whatever, he keeps it to himself ALWAYS. In fact if he’s the one, she could be stark naked and he won’t even see it. 

9. He’s generous and responsible with his money. He doesn’t “forget” his wallet. He pays his bills on time and doesn’t spend every cent of his money, or yours for that matter.

10. He keeps his word. See point 5 above. Life happens, but he is civil, maintains healthy boundaries with his ex- girlfriend, ex-wife and he takes care of his children. And if he can’t make it, he calls. 

Ladies, I pray you attract The One. That you will know that he’s the one and there is no doubt in his mind either, that you’re the one for him. 

And gentlemen, if you do not do any of these things, then You’re the Man! I know your soul mate, your perfect match is out there. I pray that she recognises the good man that you are,  when you meet. 

No Rules Digital Edition Available on Amazon

It’s Official! No Rules: An African Love Story is now available on the Amazon Kindle Store. To go to the store, copy the link below into your internet browser.

If you want to purchase the book and you don’t have a credit card you can send me your details via the contact form on the blog and I will assist you.

Yesterday I was Angry

Yesterday I was angry.

Today I am sad.

My spirit is heavy,

With the news 

Of two good men,

Gunned down in cold blood 

by their brothers.

Dying defending their sisters’ right 

To go out at night and 

Party without harassment.

Their deaths opened 

An old wound I thought had healed.

Of my cousin dying in his bar 

Shot at point blank range 

With a gun he had taken 

For safe-keeping, 

to preserve the lives of his patrons,

then returned to the owner.

Instead of taking his weapon and leaving,

Looking him in the eye,

He coldly took his life.

Leaving a widow, two orphans and 

A heart-broken mother. 

Four shattered lives,

Never to be the same again. 

For every murderous thief,

There are a few good men

Too few civilians with a conscience

And we lose them every day,

In defence against the darkness,

The bloodthirsty spirit of iniquity

That stalks this land

Lalani ngokuthula bafowethu

You may be gone but you’ll never be forgotten 

Why Is It So Hard To Find Love In This Present Generation? 

@BlueBlood_elia tweeted that line this week. We weighed in with our opinions,  some of them were profound while others were flippant.  I have many single women friends and I ask myself the same question sometimes. A single friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, how she just wanted a man “who would show up and stay”. I thought this was just a women’s issue until  @DirectorSolomon tweeted the following:

The responses ranged from hilarious to heart-breaking. My response to him was that this kind of stuff makes men skittish (nervously shy away from commitment) and for every girl that cheats on a guy there are dozens of single women who are searching, sometimes desperately, for a man to love them.

It is not easy to find love, not just in this one, but in every generation. My parents have been married for over 40 years and even they have close friends who never got married or went through multiple divorces. This is not a new problem, but it’s a sad state of affairs.

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist says we are “wired” for love, i.e. drama, stress and heartbreak etc. are not a natural state of affairs and they literally change our brain chemistry. Human beings are made in the image of a God and God is love. Her approach is both biblical and scientific. Check out her YouTube videos, she’s phenomenal. By the way I’m no expert but I see many people in pain and have experienced some pain of my own in the past from bad choices. Are you in the swamp of despondency when it comes to love? if you are single and searching think about the following issues.

Who Are You and What Do You Attract?

This is the principle of  ‘As within, so without’. Your visible reality is a manifestation of your thoughts. Thoughts can become unconscious and habitual if you hold them long enough. Ok you don’t believe me. Think about it. Your constant thoughts create habits and patterns of decision making that have brought you to this point. Think back to the decisions you made in your last relationship, when it started, why it ended and how it ended. What were you thinking. How would things have been if you had different thoughts about the person. By the way, ending a relationship is not always a bad thing, particularly if it is not good for you.

Consider these questions:

The first question is who are you in the relationship equation? What are your needs? These needs are based on the story you tell yourself when you are on your own. Your story is so very much a part of you, you don’t realise it’s there and it determines your every move. This story is created by habitual thoughts from when we were children and trying to make sense of the world. This background story shows up with you in every situation and causes you to make automatic decisions that determine the outcome of a situation. Are you:

a) Mr. or Miss Right-Now. i.e. not looking for a serious relationship. The background story is most likely because you need a temporary escape from the pain of physical, emotional or sexual abuse and want someone to make you feel attractive and blot out the pain. In this case love and sex are the addictions of choice. This is a typical addict’s profile. Zoleka Mandela’s book When Hope Whispers is an excellent example, where she talks openly about her journey back from addiction. Psychologists have coined a term called limerence, which is the emotional high you get when you are in the early stages of a relationship. This had been investigated and identified as changes to brain chemistry that happen when you are in love. So you can be addicted to love and change partners frequently to feel like that over and over again.

b) Mr. or Miss I’ll-Make-Him or Her-Right-For-Me. This background story is , I’ll change the person into my ideal partner because I’m perfect or I’ve worked so hard to be this person and my parter needs to meet my unremitting standards. Deep down, the story is that I need to control every situation so that I do not get hurt or taken advantage of. Many abusers fit this profile because their abusive behaviour comes from a place of unacknowledged raw pain.

c) Mr or Miss I’ll-Make-Myself-Right-for Him or Her. The background story is, I’ll be whoever my partner wants me to be, because I feel so unworthy and unloveable. I’ll do whatever it takes to have them in my life because deep down I don’t believe that I deserve to be loved. Many victims of abuse fit this profile.

d) Mr or Mrs Married-But-Available? No need to state the obvious. However any of the first three background stories apply. Infidelity is really is not just about sex. Emotional infidelity is just as devastating for the spouses. However for infidelity you need both motive and opportunity. Temptation presents itself based on your background story. James 1.14 says each person is lured and tempted by his or her own desire. And if you have a motive from your background story, e,g. a) ‘I need sex as a temporary relief from my pain or stress ‘, you will find an opportunity to be unfaithful whether it’s your next door neighbour, a colleague or on Oxford Street.

The second question is who are you attracting when you look for Mr or Miss Right? Is it

a); b); c) or d)?
Relationship Arithmetic

Let’s do a little bit of relationship arithmetic, shall we? In my relatively short life, I’ve learnt the following from observation and experience. A mismatch of the four doesn’t work, that’s pretty obvious right? But, a perfect match of any of the four needs does not make for a fulfilling long-term relationship either. A coincidence of wants should make a perfect whole right? No? Why is that?

a+a = one night stand; booty call or ‘friends with benefits’. It’s ok if you both walk away unscathed. Sometimes one person ‘catches feelings’ eventually. Then there is awkwardness or drama if you still bump into each other. Or you have another another hook-up for all the wrong reasons, because you’re lonely, bored or drunk.

b+b = a prison without bars of nagging, manipulation, physical and or emotional abuse. There will be a prison break eventually. I guarantee it. You cannot change a person. A person needs to change by themselves and have really good personal motivation for doing so.

c+c = an illusion, a game of smoke and mirrors. This one ends in tears without fail. That sounds like the lady in @Director Solomon’s tweet. She probably made herself over for them and played the two guys, then picked the first guy who popped the question because she just wanted to get married. That is not genuine love, if she loved her fiancé, she would not have cheated on him until a week before the wedding. For the other guy, it’s like showing up for training every day, not knowing that there are trials in progress or there’s a scout watching.

d+d = a perfect storm. Refer to a+a, only add trauma for your children, depression, the drama of divorce and or suicide or murder to the mix. The truth is someone is always playing the other person  in an extra-marital affair, not just the spouse. Very few extra-marital affairs, studies say only 10% end up in marriage and many of those marriages end in divorce because of a relationship built on a shaky foundation of deceit.

So How Do We Find Love?

We know what doesn’t work. So what does work? Actually, that is the wrong question. The answer is that you don’t search for love. When you do, you will be disappointed because you will invariably look in the wrong places based on your mental programming, the background story. The truth is that there is no formula for finding love. Love finds you. You have to be the person that someone will fall in love with. The real you, the one that you are behind closed doors, when none is looking.

These are just a few examples of what repels love. If you are bitter, twisted and resentful, that will eventually drive love away. If you are jealous, angry and controlling, you may hide it well but eventually the mask will slip, the person will see the real you and disappear from your life. If you are clingy and desperate because you need the other person to make you happy, then, what you fear most will happen, the person that you live will leave you, because the relationship is too much  work. Being happy is your own responsibility, not that of the other person. What are you willing and able to give? You cannot give what you don’t have. To attract the love, you want, change your background story. Martha Beck’s book Steering by Starlight has great advice. Dr Caroline Leaf and Iyanla Vanzant also have some great Youtube videos on that subject.
Attractive vs Loveable
There is a difference between an attractive person and a loveable person. An attractive person takes care of their external appearance, good skin, a good hairstyle, apparel that suits them, smells great and has the right toys, car, cellphone, handbag etc.  They know what to say, how to flirt, when to stop and when to make a move to get you interested in them. They make a great first impression even without saying a word. A woman’s  reaction to them is: “Damn! He fine! So hot I gotta fan myself” (sic). For guys, well, let me not speak for them.

A loveable person is genuinely interested in the other person. To do that, you have to forget your ego, how you look, sound etc. and focus on the other person. Get to know their heart. Spend more time talking. The club or a party is a great place to meet, but not the best setting for  you to truly get to know someone. Decide whether this is someone you want to spend time with. If they are not, it’s ok, move on, you can still be friendly, or not. It’s your choice.

A loveable person may not generally make a great first impression, but they make a lasting one because they make a connection from the heart. People can tell the difference between someone who is genuinely interested that they can trust with their feelings. The typical reaction to this type is, ” I really like this person, and it’s not just for their looks.”

Here are a couple of suggestions for letting love find you. Don’t limit yourself with pre-conceived ideas about who or what true love looks like, or what he or she does for a living or what car he or she drives. A person can get an education, a better job, buy a car, or buy designer shoes and acquire certain skills. A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions (Luke 12:15). However a person cannot buy a good heart. They cannot be honest, show up for you and show affection and concern consistently if it is not from the heart.
Make the Circle Bigger

Meet more people, more often, make that circle bigger. Spice up your life. Go places and do different things, things you enjoy and you will meet like-minded people. Don’t keep to the same boring weekend or work routine. We spend to much time with the same circle of people and never create opportunities to meet other people. Or when we do, we find reasons not to get to know them because they are not from our little universe.

Next time you meet someone, talk less, listen more, and listen with genuine interest. You may not make a love connection but you can make a lasting one, which who knows could grow into love, or lead you to the love of your life. Do this often enough and I believe love will find you. Finding love is easy. Keeping it is hard. I’ll save that for my next post. Until then, stay attractive and be loveable.

No Rules: The Back Story

What inspired you to write this story?

I am an idealist and an incurable romantic. I believe in love and in the happily ever after. My parents have been married for over 40 years and been together for almost 50 years. My husband and I recently celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. I have witnessed the struggles of my single friends, both male and female when it comes to dating and picking the right person. I want to portray a positive view of marriage and relationships with a minimum of drama and pain. I also have friends and acquaintances who are in cross-cultural marriages and relationships and I have written about some of the issues that they face.

Why did you choose the title of No Rules?

Mwoyo muti unomera paunoda is a Shona saying which means the heart (love) is a tree which grows where it wants to. There are no rules to love. People have tried reducing the phenomenon of love to a formula, but there really isn’t one and have come up with all sorts of written and unwritten rules. The relationship in this story breaks all of them. The laws of physical attraction may be fixed but love is really a supernatural phenomenon. Magazines and self-help books are full of advice on how to get and keep a man, how to affair-proof your marriage and relationship etc. but the reality is love is about how two people feel about each other. There are different kinds of love and we feel them at different times for different reasons which makes it hard to predict and manipulate.

What are ‘the rules’

A tricky issue where people attempt to define rules is how long do you wait before you have sex. Many men driven by pure lust would want to have sex on the first date or soon after. Lust is a biological phenomenon intended by God for humans to multiply. A man in this case is driven by the instinct to spread his seed. The majority of men lose interest immediately afterwards. So women have a dilemma.  Do you insist that he marry you, then watch him move on? Or do you compromise and have sex because you love him and let’s face it, women have needs too, then risk him waking up the following day and deciding you’re not the one?

There is a double standard that applauds men while denigrating women for having sex outside of marriage. Steve Harvey wrote Think Like A Man for his daughters because he understands how men think. He suggests waiting for 90 days, in order to be sure of the man’s intentions. However, there are people who had sex from the day they met and are still together, while others waited years, got married and still got divorced. So the only rule is not absolute.

In the novel, the couple wait for a while. They try to fight it. They don’t do a very good job. That is the reality. We have so many roadblocks, obstacles and protocol around marriage which make it an onerous process. In Genesis, God created Eve and simply put her in the garden. Adam decided she would be his partner saying she is the flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.  I don’t believe God ever intended for marriage to be so complicated, these are human rules for whatever reason. It would help if people were honest with themselves and with each other about expectations regarding sex and a relationship.

The other rule extends to marriage. How long should you wait. Again, there are people who get married within 6 months of meeting and stay together, while others wait years and still get divorced. Jide and Pelonomi meet, endure challenges and survive them to get their happily ever after. In some relationships a couple can go through in six months, what others take 10 years to experience. There is no absolute rule. The question is is how well do you know your partner and do you love him or her enough to live with their imperfections? Some people close their eyes to the truth, only to realise they can’t handle those imperfections and then they get divorced 2 years or 20 years later.

The story is set in South Africa in 2017? Why is that?

I have lived in South Africa for over 10 years. It is a beautiful country, vibrant, cosmopolitan and has such a rich history and diverse cultures. It is also a place that attracts people from different nationalities. I want to showcase what makes our country special. South Africans know to have fun, we can really party. We are among the earliest riders in the world and we strive to do better for ourselves and our families.  If you live in South Africa, you can relate to the setting. I will be publishing photographs and other media to make it real for readers overseas because I want them to see what I see.

Why choose Millennials for the main characters?

I wanted to represent a young urban African professionals who are educated accomplished and cosmopolitan. I have not come across too many stories about this cosmopolitan generation. The Millennials have been the subject of research and debate. They are different from previous generations. They are more socially and environmentally conscious, they think differently. They also value family and tradition even though they practice these in their own way. They are technologically advanced and connected via social media. They want to change the world. They are the leaders of the future and that future is not far off. I wrote the story in the first person, which is incredibly challenging, because I want the reader to stand in the people’s shoes and experience the emotions. My children are from that generation. When they come of age, I want them to choose their partners wisely so In a sense, I am writing this for them.

Why does Pelonomi have to be studious, in other words, a nerd?

Nerds fall in love too. Pelo is a highly intelligent, educated and cultured young woman. Many men would be attracted to her face and body and not pay attention to her amazing mind or her crazy ideas. But crazy ideas are the ones that change the world. When we appreciate everything about our partners, we can support them and they can achieve extraordinary things. Jide is a nerd too, he just doesn’t look like one, because he plays basketball and is in great physical shape. So the story is about two nerds falling in love. In a sense it is a way of letting intelligent girls know that they can be themselves and find love and not have to hide their brilliance because it makes men insecure.

There are some highly charged and explicit love scenes. What is your reason for including these? 

This is a work of adult fiction. Sex is an integral part of life. We are all here as a result of sex. Studies show the number of times men and women think about sex. It is a primary biological need, whose purpose is to keep the human race from extinction, not that we are in any danger of that now. In the novel, I wanted to portray sex in a loving committed relationship because many people believe sex is boring when you get married or commit to one partner. It really isn’t unless you make it so. If you do, you will forever be lusting after other people. Too many people destroy their marriages because they are fantasizing about what is out there. In my opinion, casual sex is the equivalent of eating junk food when you can have a gourmet meal at home, because you lack that intimacy and emotional connection that makes it special.

You don’t pull your punches when you talk about xenophobia. Why is that? 

I was born in Zimbabwe. My paternal grandfather was Zulu. His family were immigrants in what was then called Rhodesia. I am classified as an immigrant because I was not born in South Africa. I have personally experienced xenophobia because I use my husband’s surname and my passport does not bear witness to my genealogy.

The reality is that there is no pure race or tribe. We’re all from somewhere else. The borders that we live within are artificial ones created by the colonial powers in an effort to keep peace among themselves. These borders split up families, clans and nations from a common linguistic and cultural point of view. In South Africa the only truly indigenous people are the Khoi San, everyone else is an immigrant.

My two main characters are from different countries and they each face hurdles in believing that the love is real and getting this relationship accepted because of the stereotypes and barriers that we have developed as African people.

You talk extensively about religion and spirituality. Why is that?  

The lovers are both Christians at different stages in their walk with God. Our spirituality is an important part of who we are. When we do not spend time in some sort of devotion, we lose touch with a vital part of ourselves and we try to fill that emptiness with drugs, alcohol, sex, food or whatever other addictions. I want to promote a positive image of God as a loving deity, not a harsh taskmaster. The God that I worship is interested in all the details of our lives, including our love lives and believe it it not, sex. There are also different ways of relating to God, known as spiritual pathways and God will meet you on the pathway you choose because the Bible says God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6.

Who needs to read this story?

Single people, particularly women, who struggle with issues of relationships and expressing themselves sexually. Married people too will find some wisdom to revive the passion in their relationships. Writing the novel helped me to appreciate things about my husband and our marriage that I have tended to take for granted.

What can we look forward to in the novel? 

There is romance, fun and laughter. There are interesting conversations with friends and family as they come to terms with the relationship. There are moments of crisis and conflict. There is the bridal shower where the pastor’s wife gives an iconic speech and the preparations for the four different ceremonies for the marriage to be complete.

What other plans do you have for the story? 

I would love to make a film of it. I think it is a great story. I would also like to get people to engage with the story on different platforms, because there are do many issues that are relevant to our society that we need to think about and debate and confront and change our minds if possible, in order to make better choices for ourselves and for people around us.

No Rules: Synopsis of the Novel

This is a an urban contemporary love story between two Millennials from different backgrounds. Pelonomi is South African woman whose family is from rural Limpopo but grew up in Johannesburg, while Jideofor is a Nigerian man who was born in the United States. I chose the title   ‘No Rules’ because the relationship progresses in a manner that differs to the accepted norms of how people get to know each other and decide on whether a person is ‘the one’.
The story takes you on the roller-coaster journey of their relationship from the moment they meet, getting to know each other and meeting their respective families, to eventually getting married. While the couple have different personalities and interests, they have similar core values and they are able to overcome their differences to build a solid and intimate relationship. There are also some interesting conversations with the couple’s friends and family as they try to come to terms with this whirlwind love affair.

The couple struggle to resist the their mutual physical attraction to establish their relationship. Pelonomi as a young black woman from a fairly conservative background and a survivor of date rape, struggles with her need to express herself sexually. Jideofor as a man, has no such hang-ups but has to be sensitive to her needs and give her time to get over her fears.

The story is set in Johannesburg, giving the reader an view of contemporary South African urban life. The story shows the contrasts between global contemporary lifestyles and lingering demands of both Pedi and Igbo tradition and custom. The story also touches on current issues of xenophobia, the conflict between tradition and modernity particularly when it comes to women, sexuality and marriage, the influence of religion, and the idea of the common origin of sub-Saharan African people.

The novel also proposes a radical view of sex within a committed relationship that opposes the prevailing negative narrative of boring monogamy. The story also touches on the impact of religious fundamentalism and dogmatic tradition and custom which dictates how women ‘should behave’.

The story tells of the drama of planning and carrying out of four different marriage ceremonies to accommodate tradition on both sides of the family as well as religion. However, the couple manage to get through it all through their intense love for one another and with the help of their friends to get to their ‘happily ever after’ moment when they set off on honeymoon.