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.

Electrifying,

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.

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When Hope Whispers: My Personal Perspective


Introduction

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.
#WhattaMan


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.
Conclusion

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.

A Working Girl’s Dream


Picture Courtesy of Pinterest


Dr. King had a dream.

One deeply rooted in the American dream

That one day his nation would rise up

Would live up to its creed,

“We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.”

Dr King had a dream too,

That his four little children would one day live in a nation,

Where they would be judged

Not by the color of their skin,

But by the content of their character.

I too, an ordinary working woman

Have a dream.

Of the day,

When my dark skin, thick lips and nappy hair will not be held against me.

When I will be judged by the stellar results of

My hard work

Leadership qualities and

The brilliant disruptive game-changing genius of my creative mind.

Not by
My expensively made up face, (I only wear Mac darling) or;

The red soles on my stilettos (Genuine Louboutins dear, I don’t wear knock -offs);

Not by

The hideously expensive boutique original outfit (You know from his Ready to Wear Autumn Winter Collection, darling)

Nor by

The price of my handbag, ( Check the label and the stitching please)

the car I drive; or

The address of the secure complex where I lay my head.

Judge me,

Not by

My ability to flatter, woo and schmooze; or

The impeccably impregnable facade of my perfectly managed perceptions,

All designed to flatter and placate superiors

To prove that I’m worthy of my place.

On that day my spirit will dance and my soul will sing.

Free At Last! Free At Last! Thank God Almighty! We’re Free At Last!

Yes! A working girl can dream too!

In living colour!

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 

Angry Black Woman


Picture courtesy of Pinterest

I am an African. I am a black woman. I get angry. Being black, and a woman does not equate to being angry. I am not always angry. Sometimes I’m happy, other times I’m excited and on occasion I am fearful. Anger is an emotion not a permanent state of being. Emotions come and go as and when they are triggered. There are two triggers for anger, fear or trauma. But today I am angry.

I am angry because yet another black woman not unlike myself has died at the hands of her partner. I don’t care if there was a fight. I don’t care who started it. I don’t care that she spent his money or whether she wanted to break off the relationship. I am angry because it could happen to my sister, my daughter, my niece or my friend.
I am angry because I live in a society where a woman cannot negotiate relationship terms, ask a man to use a condom, or walk away from an abusive man without losing her life. I am angry because men who kill their partners get off with culpable homicide because the prosecution cannot prove that the killing was pre-meditated.

I am angry because black girls are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse, at the hands of family, friends, teachers or complete strangers. I am angry because 40% of women in South Africa are likely to experience rape at least once in their lives. I am angry because the trial, court system, rules of evidence and conduct of police, judges and lawyers retraumatise the victims.

I am angry because black women and girls cannot walk in public or travel on public transport at certain times, without being sexually harassed. I am angry that men actually think they should be flattered by the attention and accept being groped, fondled and raped. I am angry because black women and girls are told what to wear and where to go, instead of telling men not to grope, fondle or rape. I am angry that rapists don’t get to go to jail to experience the hell of rape themselves by other men.

I am angry because in this world, a girl must prostitute herself for alcohol, drugs, a new hairstyle whether Brazilian weave or a synthetic bob, a designer outfit, sanitary pads, a two piece meal at KFC, a can of coke or university fees. I am angry because a young woman must grant sexual favours to the boss to get a job, keep her job or get a promotion.

I am angry because black girls are mutilated to control their sexual feelings. I am angry because they are cut open with knives by their husbands when they have sex for the first time. I am angry because they have to be treated at a specialist hospital for injuries sustained during childbirth.

I am angry because a black girl is seen,  not heard, not educated, or given an inheritance ahead of her brothers to assure her independence. I am angry because black girls are married off before they finish puberty to assure men of their purity. I am angry because educated black women are under pressure to find a husband, as if men who are marriage material are as many as grains of sand on a seashore. I am angry because a black woman cannot decide when and if she wants children or how many. I am angry because black women still die in childbirth in South Africa.

I am angry because I live in a world of whiteness and patriarchy, which puts a black woman at the bottom of the social and economic ladder. White man, White woman, Indian Man, Indian Woman, Coloured Man, Coloured Woman , Black Man then Black Woman. I am angry, because when a black Woman challenges anyone above her on the ladder, even based on facts, she is labeled as emotional irrational and you guessed it, angry.

I am angry because a black woman is offered and paid less than a white or Indian man or woman for the same job, even if she has more qualifications and experience. We know from the cars that they drive, where they go on holiday and where they send their children to school. I am angry that the diversity and inclusion committees have no real power to influence transformation in corporate entities.

I am angry because a black woman executive must put on a performance to get ahead in the patriarchal corporate death cult. She must read more, learn more, work harder, sleep less, lean in. She must show just enough passion, not too much, otherwise the place will burn to the ground. She must smile, be pleasant, make her point without ruffling superiors’ feathers, tiptoeing around gross executive egos with jagged edges. She must be on the side of management even when they are wrong. She must defend the oppressor against the oppressed because they hold her livelihood in the palm of her hand.

I am angry because black women experience racist and sexist road rage, sometimes just for driving with care. I am angry because black women still get verbally abused in restaurants by white patrons. I am angry because black mothers have to bury their children killed by white farmers for spurious reasons,

I am angry that many reading this article will either minimize or deny this constant assault on black women’s bodies, lives and integrity. I am angry because others will be emotional without taking any action or doing any self-introspection. I am angry at the black men who are more oppressive of black women than other races, calling them ‘bitches’ or ‘hoes’. I am angry at black women who blame the victims and take the oppressor’s side, that they lack empathy because they are in a more comfortable position with education, money and choices that other black women don’t have.

I have plenty to be angry about, enough for several lifetimes. Most of all, I am angry that I will be called an angry black woman, as if anger is a permanent state of my being, by the same people who do the very things that make me angry.

Black Magic Woman

img_1172

Black Magic Woman.
Watch her move.
See her slay.
Spinning her sorcery,
Swaying her hips.

A glance of her eyes
Draws you in.
You’re powerless,
Spellbound.
Sparks fly
From the halo of fire,
That dances around her.

You’re tangled now,
In the web she weaves
With your desire.
She tempts you,
Tests you,
Brings you to your knees.
Black Magic Woman.
Your longing won’t let her pass.

Chapter 6 in Pictures

I see her floating lazily through the market like a butterfly.

Oh yes, I won’t forget the day came shining in. ( Hugh Masekela)


West African Market Place. The smiles are real. (Courtesy of Pinterest)


Johannesburg Central Business District (Courtesy of Pinterest)

Mai Mai Market. Not just for muti. (Courtesy of Pinterest)


Maboneng Precinct. Arts on Main. Market on Main. Johannesburg CB ( Courtesy of Pinterest)

Chapter 4 My Heart Crowned Him King

Head over heels,

Still falling,

Far still from hitting,

Rock bottom.

Gravity’s nothing

Compared to this feeling.

My mind appeals,

Raging, warning

Alarm bells ringing

This can’t be real.

His hands on my skin,

My fevered response within.

I’m mesmerized, paralyzed and hypnotised.

I want to walk, run and fly

All at the same time,

 From the agony, ecstasy

The relentless intensity.

Held captive by those eyes.

With one look, my heart crowned him king.

 Now my soul has only this song to sing.

Painting attributed to Samuel Ikenna Kong